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How to Deal with Contact Lens Discomfort

Do your eyes itch or burn when wearing contact lenses? There are several reasons why you may be experiencing contact lens discomfort. Discover the possible causes behind the problem and see what you can do to relieve your discomfort.

What Causes Contact Lens Discomfort?

Some of the top causes of uncomfortable contacts are:

Dry eyes

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that arises when your tears can’t keep your eyes sufficiently lubricated due to an imbalance in the tear film. Certain diseases, medications and environmental factors, like high levels of dryness and wind, can cause or contribute to red, itchy or irritated eyes, especially when wearing contacts.

Allergies

Allergens are typically harmless substances that induce an allergic response in certain people. Pollen, mold, dust and pet dander are some of the most common airborne allergens that trigger eye allergies. Cosmetics and certain eye drops, such as artificial tears with preservatives, can also induce eye allergies, which can make contact lens wear uncomfortable.

Corneal irregularities

The cornea at the front of the eye may be irregularly shaped due to astigmatism, keratoconus, eye surgeries (i.e. LASIK or cataract surgery), eye injuries or burns, scarring, corneal ulcers and/or severe dry eye. Irregular corneas often prevent traditional contact lenses from fitting correctly and comfortably.

Symptoms of Contact Lens Discomfort

  • Burning, itchy, stinging eyes
  • Sensation of something being stuck is in the eye
  • Excessive watering or tearing of the eyes
  • Unusual eye secretions
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Reduced sharpness of vision
  • Blurred vision, rainbows, or halos around objects
  • Sensitivity to light

How to Relieve Contact Lens Discomfort

Try Different Contact Lenses

Nowadays, there are many types of contact lenses on the market, including specialty contacts for dry eyes and astigmatism. Meet with our optometrist for a personalized eye exam for contacts.

With the variety of contact lens brands available, switching to a different contact lens may be the simplest answer if you’re experiencing discomfort that isn’t connected to improper fitting or issues with tear production. If your existing lenses fit well but still irritate and dry out your eyes, speak to us about trying a different design or brand of contact lenses, or changing your lens-wearing schedule.

Artificial Tears or Eye Drops

Over-the-counter artificial tears or eye drops are a common way to temporarily relieve contact lens discomfort. However, it’s important to keep in mind that unless prescribed by an eye doctor, they may not be treating the root of the problem.

Moreover, certain eye drops are incompatible with contact lenses, and may damage your contacts or harm your eyes. We also recommend staying away from products that claim to remove redness from your eyes, which temporarily reduce the size of blood vessels to lessen redness, but do not address the underlying cause of the condition, and can actually worsen it over time.

Take Good Care of Your Lenses

Inadequate contact lens care leaves residue on your lenses, which can discomfort, harmful eye infections and inflammation. Below are a few important contact lens hygiene guidelines to follow:

  • Before handling your contact lenses, thoroughly wash and dry your hands.
  • Remove your lenses before showering, bathing or swimming to prevent infection.
  • Do not sleep in your contact lenses (unless they are approved for sleeping).
  • Replace your contact lenses according to the manufacturer’s instructions (e.g., don’t reuse daily wear lenses).
  • Regularly clean your contact lens case and ask your eye doctor when to replace it.
  • Only use a contact lens solution that is appropriate for your lenses.
  • Never reuse or mix contact lens solutions.
  • Schedule regular appointments with your eye doctor.

If you are experiencing discomfort with your contact lenses, get in touch with Family Eyecare Center of Optometry in Westchester, Los Angeles today. We’ll get to the bottom of the problem and provide effective solutions for all-day comfort.

Q&A

What kinds of contacts are available?

Contact lenses are available in a wide range of materials and replacement schedules. Disposable contact lenses and extended wear contacts are the most convenient for many users.

I’ve already been fitted for contact lenses, so why did my optometrist ask me to come back?

If you’re asked to return a week later, it’s because your optometrist wants to rule out any issues, such as contact lens-related dry eye or irritation.

If it’s been around a year since your last eye checkup, you’ve likely been contacted to check whether your prescription has changed and to evaluate your eye health. The sooner problems are detected and treated, the better the outcome.

What is Astigmatism?

So, you found out you have astigmatism.

(This whole time I actually thought it was called a “stigmatism”. Anyone else think the same?)

This is one of the most common vision problems and luckily, it can be corrected!

Here are some of your most commonly asked questions about astigmatism.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is not an eye disease, like macular degeneration or glaucoma. Rather, astigmatism is a refractive error. This means that the eye does not focus light at the back of the retina like it should.

What causes astigmatism?

To put it simply, it has to do with the shape of your eye.

It is most commonly caused by an irregularly shaped cornea, which is the clear curved layer covering the front of the eye. The cornea is like a window that lets light into the eye.

A normal cornea is symmetrical and spherical, like a baseball. When light enters the eye of a symmetrical cornea, the light bends evenly and can focus on one spot at the back of the retina. This allows you to see clearly.

When there is astigmatism, the cornea may be flatter and stretched out in certain areas, like a football. This causes light to focus in more than one spot on your retina, leading to blurred vision.

The retina is the back wall of the eyeball which contains light-sensitive cells called rods and cones. The retina creates impulses based on what we are seeing and sends those messages along the optic nerve to the brain. The brain interprets those messages into images.

Astigmatism can also be caused by an irregularly shaped lens.

Hear The Eye Doctors explain, “What is Astigmatism?”

What are the common symptoms of astigmatism?

  • Blurred vision (both near and far)
  • Distorted vision
  • Headaches
  • Squinting
  • Eye strain

How is astigmatism detected?

Astigmatism can be diagnosed through an eye exam. Pay attention to any changes in your vision and give Dr. Ashcraft a call if you notice any different symptoms.

Astigmatism affects both children and adults. For this reason it is especially important for children to get their eyes checked regularly. Undiagnosed vision conditions may affect your child’s ability to perform at their prime in school and sports.

How can I correct my astigmatism?

Luckily, there are a few options to correct astigmatism.

  1. Eyeglasses

This is the most common way to help you see your very best. Dr. Ashcraft has a wide selection of children’s and adult frames to choose from. With the correct prescription lenses and a good fitting frame, you will be able to see without the blurriness, squinting, headaches, and eyestrain.

  1. Contact Lenses

For those who prefer contact lenses to eye glasses, there are uniquely made contacts lenses designed to help correct your astigmatism. Toric contact lenses, gas permeable contact lenses, and hybrid contact lenses are some of the more popular types. Talk to your eye doctor about if you are a good candidate for contacts. You will need to have a contact lens fitting to ensure you find the right lenses for your needs.

  1. Refractive Surgeries

The purpose of refractive surgery (i.e. photorefractive keratotomy, radial keratotomy, etc) is to permanently change the shape of your cornea so that light can focus properly on the retina.

 

Sources:

All About Vision. Astigmatism. http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/astigmatism.htm

All About Vision. Contact Lenses for Astigmatism: Toric, GP and Hybrid Lenses. http://www.allaboutvision.com/contacts/torics.htm

American Academy of Ophthalmology. What is Astigmatism? https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-astigmatism

Bausch + Lomb. Astigmatism. http://www.bausch.com/your-eye-concerns/vision-correction/astigmatism

National Eye Institute. Facts About Astigmatism. https://nei.nih.gov/health/errors/astigmatism

Youtube. What is Astigmatism? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2unZbcVzrE

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We Are Open! COVID-19 ReOpening—Expectations
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety and well-being of our patients, staff and doctors is our first priority. Read Safety Protocols. Please read our safety protocols here.