Common Contact Lens Problems

Published September 14, 2020

While wearing contact lenses is a safe alternative to eyeglasses, they can come with problems that you may not expect— especially if you are a new contact lens wearer.

Here are some of the most common contact lens problems, and how to avoid them.

Damaged contact lens

Tears, chips, and cracks to a contact lens can happen, and are common complaints among contact lens wearers. If the contact lens is damaged in any way, do not insert into your eye.

Always inspect your contact lenses prior to insertion to ensure that there are no chips, splits or tears in the contact lens.

Sometimes, when contact lenses are disinfected, they can become damaged in the process.

Even if the lens is not torn, but appears slightly warped, it is best to discard the lens and open a fresh lens package. Warping can happen if the lens is accidentally squeezed or if the storage case is kept in a room where the temperature is too warm.

A damaged lens can scratch or irritate your cornea, putting your eye at risk of damage or even infection, and a warped lens may not sit correctly on the cornea, making it difficult to correct a refractive error.

Moreover, inadequate lens care or use of makeup, creams, or hairspray while wearing contact lenses, can cause a buildup of proteins and fatty deposits on the surface of the lens. When this happens, the lens is at greater risk of contamination from bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, which can result in corneal irritation.

To avoid damaged lenses, carefully follow your optometrist’s instructions on how to properly check, clean and care for your contact lenses.

Dry eyes

If your eyes feel dry after wearing your contact lenses for a few hours, it may be due to reduced blinking. 

It has been proven that contact lens wearers blink less frequently than non-contact lens wearers— and when sitting in front of a TV or computer screen, blink frequency is even further reduced.

To avoid dry eyes, not only should you try to blink more often, but most doctors recommend using lubricating eye drops to provide the much needed moisture.

Consult with your optometrist before starting a new eye drop, since not all eye drops are compatible with contact lenses. 

If dry eyes continue to be a problem, and eye drops do not seem to relieve your discomfort, your optometrist may recommend switching your brand of contact lenses to a brand specifically designed for dry eyes.

Sometimes, dry eyes may be caused by dust, smoke, the effects of certain medications, and even air conditioning. 

If your environment is causing your dry eyes, try to make some lifestyle changes to avoid these factors as much as possible— or keep a pair of glasses nearby in case you need to remove your lenses in the middle of the day.

Eye discomfort at night

If you are experiencing eye discomfort toward the end of the day, you may be wearing your contact lenses for too many hours. 

To avoid this problem, many doctors recommend removing your lenses at the end of your work day, or after dinner, instead of right before bedtime.

If this is not possible, speak with your optometrist about switching to lenses that contain a higher oxygen permeability. This type of lens is known for its ability to maintain hydration throughout the day— allowing for longer, more comfortable wear.

Burning after lens insertion

Do your eyes burn upon lens insertion? Your eyes may be telling you that your contact lenses are dirty.

Contact lenses are made to absorb water and solution in order to keep them soft and flexible. However, they can also absorb dirt, oil, perfumes, creams, hairsprays, and many other types of materials.

If your eyes burn upon lens insertion, remove your lenses immediately. 

To avoid this problem, always wash your hands with soap, free of perfumes and added oils, before touching your eyes and lenses.

Additionally, if you have come in contact with hairspray, smoke, or anything else that may irritate your eyes, wait a few minutes before inserting your contact lenses— this will give your tears a chance to flush out the irritants before putting in your lenses.

Another option to ensure that your lenses stay clean and free of contamination is to use daily disposable lenses. Starting the day with a fresh pair of lenses, will reduce your risk of contamination from improper cleaning— but still be sure to wash your hands well before handling your lenses.

Contact lens awareness

Does your contact lens feel like it’s moving around in your eye? It may mean your lens does not fit your eye properly.

If your lens is too loose on your eye, or if the diameter or base curve is not accurate, it can cause an increased awareness of your lenses, especially when you blink.

On the other hand, your lens is too tight, you may not notice any discomfort for a few hours, as the lens will feel comfortable at first— but do not ignore this problem as there can be long term consequences of wearing tight lenses.

If your lenses are a proper fit, but they continue to cause discomfort, or an awareness that you can’t figure out, it may be time to replace your lenses. This sensation can occur when dirt and residue build up over time on the lens surface, causing an increased awareness of the lens on your eye.

Allergic reaction

Are your eyes red, itchy, and sore? You may be allergic to your contact lens solution.

It is not uncommon for contact lens wearers to be allergic or sensitive to a preservative in their contact lens solution. If you are having an allergic reaction, you may experience redness, itching, and burning upon lens insertion.

Be sure to speak to your optometrist about switching lens care brands, to alleviate your discomfort— it is important to discuss with your doctor before switching products, as not all lenses are suitable for every product.

Seasonal allergies

If you suffer from allergies, you may already know that your eyes suffer as well. 

Unfortunately, wearing contact lenses during high allergy seasons may increase your eye allergy symptoms, as dirt and particles can stick to your lenses without you even being aware.

If you are experiencing increased eye allergy symptoms even after following a strict lens cleaning routine, speak to your optometrist about switching to daily disposable lenses. Daily lenses can help to keep your symptoms under control, as you will be able to replace your lenses each day, preventing a buildup of allergens.

Your eye doctor may also recommend using artificial tears lubricating eye drops to help flush out any allergens from your eyes throughout the day.

When to contact your eye doctor

If you experience any problems with your contact lenses, it is always a good idea to remove them until you speak with your optometrist. 

Many contact lens problems are generally mild and easy to treat. However, complications can occur in some situations, and lead to serious infections that can threaten your vision. 

Therefore, always let your eye doctor know if any problems persist or any new problems arise, as well as if the recommended treatments are proving to be ineffective.

Contact lenses can be an easy and convenient solution for clear and comfortable vision— take care of them and they will take care of you.