Maintain lens hygiene
It is essential to maintain lens hygiene to prevent discomfort from your lenses. Failing to take adequate care of your contact lenses can lead to irritation.
You should wash your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses and use the contact lens solution recommended to you by your eye care professional. Using the wrong cleaning solutions or rewetting drops can cause discomfort, redness and in some cases, an allergic response.
In some cases, it is possible for contact lens wearers to develop sensitivity to certain eye care solutions even if they worked well for you initially. This is more often the case with solutions containing preservatives. If you all of a sudden experience discomfort and irritation from your contact lens solution, you should speak to your eye care professional who may switch you to a preservative-free lens care system or to daily contact lenses which require no cleaning.
Eye drops and artificial tears
Eye drops and artificial tears are a great remedy if you wish to relieve occasional dryness and discomfort caused by contact lenses. Again, speak to your optician or eye care professional before using artificial tears to check that they are compatible with your contact lenses. Some eye drops may be incompatible with your contact lenses which can degrade them. In addition to this, not all eye drops are designed to be used with contact lenses.
If you’re looking for eye drops to relieve dryness, avoid using eye drops which are designed to get rid of redness. These may help to shrink the blood vessels and get rid of the red eye appearance; however, they won’t treat dry eyes. In addition to this, using too much can cause unwanted side effects including making your eyes even redder.
Getting the correct fit
Everybody's eyes are unique. Therefore, the correct measures should be taken to ensure that your contact lenses are unique to your eyes and fit properly.
In a contact lens fitting appointment, an eye care professional will measure your eyes carefully to ensure that your lenses fit properly. You will then have an aftercare appointment two weeks after wearing your lenses; therefore, if your lenses feel slightly off, this will be addressed and a new product will be refitted.
Taking nutritional supplements can help to support your tear chemistry should you experience discomfort and dryness from contact lenses. Omgea-3 fatty acids and flaxseed oil can discourage tear evaporation by aiding the oil part of your tear composition.
Foods to eat for good eye health include oily fish which also contains omega-3 fatty acids to aid dry eye.
Sticking to the correct wearing schedule
You should always follow the contact lens wear schedule prescribed to you by your optician. Wearing contact lenses for too long can lead to severe eye infections, causing irritation and discomfort. Never sleep in your contact lenses unless they are extended wear contact lenses and have been prescribed by an eye care professional. You should also check the expiration date on your contact lenses to avoid the risk of a bacterial infection. In addition to this, make sure to throw away your contact lens solution after 1-2 months of opening, despite the date on the bottle.
Why does my contact lens feel uncomfortable?
The following factors can also cause your contact lenses to feel uncomfortable:
You may experience irritation if you are in an environment where there is a lot of dust, dander or pollen in the atmosphere. These allergens can adhere to your lenses and cause redness, dry eyes, watering or swelling. You should frequently clean your lenses, if these problems persist, it may be best to speak to your optician about switching to daily disposable lenses. Seasonal allergies are treated with eye drops; however, it is best to speak to an eye care professional before using these.
Corneal irregularities such as astigmatism can prevent a contact lens from fitting properly on the eye, resulting in contact lens discomfort. Other corneal irregularities include high astigmatism, keratoconus and corneal ulcers.
Discomfort and irritation may be the result of an infection or an underlying disease rather than contact lenses. If your eyes become red and swollen or if you experience discharge, you should contact your eye care professional immediately. If you do have an eye infection or experience pain, redness or blurred vision, you should stop wearing contact lenses immediately and see your optician.
Contact lens associated dry eyes
Those with dry eyes often don’t produce enough tears to keeps their eyes moist and lubricated. This can make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable. Dry eyes can be caused by many factors such as smoking and excessive screen use. They can also be associated with a range of medical conditions.
If you are experiencing dry eyes when wearing contact lenses, we recommend you discuss this with your optician or GP. There are many types of contact lenses available for dry eyes and they may suggest newer options which are more comfortable than your current lenses.
My eyes are red after contacts
If your eyes are red after wearing contact lenses, you should consider this a warning sign. There are many reasons why your eyes are red after wearing contacts including the following:
- Overwear of you contact lenses
- Contact lens-induced acute red eye – this is when toxins (created by bacteria in your eyes) stick to the lenses
- Contact lens solution – you may have an allergy to your solution
- Eye allergies
- Corneal ulcer
- Poorly fitted lenses
- Dry eye syndrome
- Eye infections - such as keratitis
If your eyes are red after wearing contact lenses, you should see your doctor immediately as eye redness can be a sign of one of the more serious issues listed above.
How do you avoid eye infections from contact lenses?
There are a range of factors that can cause contact lens related eye infections. In order to avoid eye infections from contact lenses, you should handle your contact lenses with care and take the following precautions:
- Avoid sleeping in your contact lenses
- Keep your lenses and lens case clean
- Replace your lens case every 1-3 months
- Avoid re-using or topping up contact lens solution
- Never use water as a cleaning solution
- Keep water away from your lenses
- Allow your eyes a break from lenses every now and then
- Follow your optician’s advice on how long to wear your lenses
How long does contact irritation last?
Wearing contact lenses for the first time shouldn't be a painful experience, however, they can cause mild irritation during the first few days. For example, it’s quite normal to feel the edges of the lenses the first few times; however, minor irritation should go away within 15 minutes as your eyes adjust to the lenses. As your eyes become accustomed to the feeling, you'll forget you're even wearing lenses. Remember, you have to build up your wearing time and days and if you’re new to lenses, you cannot wear them for a whole day right away.
Contact lenses have come a long way from when they were first invented, with soft contact lenses and silicone hydrogel contact lenses making them comfortable to wear.
If you're a first-time wearer and feel that your contact lenses don't feel right, you should remove the lenses and inspect them for damage or dust, and check that they are the right way round and not inside out. If all appears okay, clean and rinse them with saline or your contact lens solution before reinserting them.
Never reinsert a damaged lens and if eye irritation from your lenses continues, contact your eye care professional straight away.