Contact Lens Wear Conditions
Contact lens wearers are susceptible to a variety of conditions that are either directly or indirectly linked to contact lens use. These conditions can be loosely grouped into three categories: hypoxia, an oxygen deficiency condition; allergic reactions and infections; and dry eye. Both soft and hard contact lens wearers can be affected by any of these conditions. Our doctors have significant experience with diseases affecting contact lens wearers.
Common Contact Lens Wear Conditions
Hypoxia, an insufficient supply of oxygen to the cornea, is the underlying cause of most complications of contact lens wear. When you place a contact lens over the eye, it limits the amount of air, or oxygen that can reach the eye. This can lead to weary, tired eyes and lessen your tolerance for long-term contact wear.
Related symptoms include a lack of tolerance for long periods of contact lens wear; discomfort, a feeling of grittiness; and blurred vision, especially toward the end of the wearing period.
To treat hypoxia, increase the water content of the lens. Do this by periodically removing the lenses and allowing them to rehydrate in contact lens solution. Or, consider changing from an extended wear to a daily wear lens, reduce the thickness of the lens or change the permeability of the lens material. We can help you evaluate your options.
Contact lens wear can cause infections of the eye, most often in response to having bacteria, pollen, or chemical - cosmetics, for example - transfer from the lens to your eye.
A very common form of bacterial eye infection is bacterial conjunctivitis, but most people know it as "pink eye." Bacterial infection symptoms usually include redness, itching and stickiness of your eyes, especially upon waking. Symptoms may also include a dark yellow or greenish discharge.
Bacterial and fungal keratitis is of growing concern amongst contact lens wearers, and is a serious and painful corneal disease. Treatment is needed immediately. Infection is usually related to inappropriate lens wear such as wearing disposable lenses longer then advised, not changing your contact lens case or solution on a regular basis, inappropriate disinfection of the lens, and exposure to contaminated water. If you get or think you may have an infection, stop wearing your lenses immediately and see your eye doctor right away.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye is a condition to which soft contact lens wearers are often susceptible. Soft lenses tend to draw moisture or tears out of the eye which leads to a gritty, burning feeling. Or, simply put, makes your eyes feel dry.
Dry eye symptoms include redness, itchiness, burning or stinging in the eye and sometimes sensitivity to light. Generally speaking, it feels like there's something in the eye causing general discomfort.
If dry eye persists, consider using artificial tear drops and not wearing your lenses until the conditions improve. If redness or pain persists, see your doctor, as redness can be a key symptom of eye infection as well.
How to Avoid Contact Lens Wear Conditions
- Wash hands with soap and water, and dry them using a lint-free method before handling lenses.
- Wear and replace lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your doctor.
- Follow the specific lens cleaning and storage guidelines provided by your doctor and the solution manufacturer.
- Keep the contact lens case clean and replace every 30 days.
- Remove the lenses and consult your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms such as redness, pain, tearing, increased light sensitivity, blurry vision, discharge, or swelling.
Most of these conditions are preventable with properly fitting contact lenses, appropriate lens maintenance and replacement, and care to prevent contamination of the lenses. Contact us if these symptoms persist as some conditions can lead to permanent sight loss.