Many people choose contact lenses for the convenience of being free of glasses. However, the use of contacts can be misinterpreted as a low maintenance procedure without risk of discomfort or consequence. It is important to remember that proper care and maintenance of these lenses and your eye health are necessary to ensure no complications from their use. Make sure to follow the instructions provided by our optometrists. Read on to learn about some common and rare-but-serious complications from contact lens wear and what you can do to prevent them.
Contact Lens Dryness and Irritation
One of the most common complaints of contact lens wearers is the feeling of dryness, irritation, or foreign body sensation in the eye. These often do not lead to damage or complications in the eye, though they are quite annoying to deal with. The good news is that there is often a fix to this issue. As contact lens companies update their products, there are often new technologies available to combat this issue.
Eye drops are often available to help with these symptoms as well. If you visit one of our eye doctors for these complaints, they may attempt to change the lens material, contact lens solution, or the wearing schedule (i.e. monthly/ biweekly lens to a daily disposable lens). A fresh new lens every day will often help with decreasing irritants that are introduced to the eye and provide better comfort.
If there are other underlying causes for the irritation/ dryness, such as a lack of sufficient tear production or allergies, our optometrists will manage these accordingly so that you can return to contact lens wear as soon as possible.
Contact Lens Related Red Eyes
Beyond mild discomfort, if you are experiencing symptoms such as excessive pain, red eyes, discharge, or reduced vision then immediately stop contact lens wear and see our optometrist. These symptoms may result from infection or inflammation that can permanently affect your vision if left untreated. One reason for red eyes could be from overwear of contact lenses beyond their instructed wear schedule, especially if worn overnight. Lens wear during sleep prevents the front surface of the eye from receiving adequate levels of oxygen, thus increasing the risk of infection and swelling.
If you visit one of our eye doctors during this stage, they will advise you to discontinue lens wear and may provide antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drop medications and/ or artificial tears/ lubricants. This will prevent infection, calm down the inflammation and speed the healing process. It is important to note that even if you find your symptoms have reduced, continue to use medications as instructed by our optometrist to ensure a full recovery.
Corneal Infections from Contact Lenses
A corneal infection or ulcer is considered an ocular emergency and needs to be treated immediately. This condition is often associated with extreme pain, a red eye, light sensitivity and sticky discharge. If you are diagnosed with this condition, the treatment includes very frequent antibiotic drop and ointment use, with anti-inflammatory medications after the initial onset has settled to reduce irreversible scarring of the front surface of the eye. If caught early, permanent vision loss can usually be prevented but in some cases, regardless of the treatment, irreversible scarring may occur.
If you are ever experiencing consistent irritation, red eyes, or pain, immediately stop wearing contact lenses and book an appointment with one of our optometrists.