Good Habits = Happy Eyes
For many people, contact lenses are associated with freedom and convenience. Assuming you have the right fit, contacts are a great tool to correct your eyesight. You can enjoy clear vision without having something sitting on your face (or fogging up!). Once you’ve learned properly, contacts are easy to use and open up many possibilities, even changing your eye color.
Like most good things in life, there are drawbacks wearing contacts. If you don’t take care of them or practice good habits, many different issues can arise, some of them very serious. Examples of these issues include dry or red eyes, corneal ulcers, giant papillary conjunctivitis, and more. People who have worn contacts for decades can be just as susceptible to problems as new wearers. Even the most fastidious of contact lens wearers should be aware of the risks of improper use so you can avoid these issues!
Common Complications of Contact Lenses
Dry Eye Syndrome: Dry eyes can happen to anyone, at any time! And it’s exactly what it sounds like. Your eyes aren’t producing the right amount of tears to keep your eye lubricated which leads to redness, sensitivity to light, burning or itching, blurred vision and eye fatigue. This can happen for a multitude of reasons. Some being as simple as a hormone change! Contact wearers have a higher risk of developing dry eyes due to a lens sitting directly on their eyes, which disrupts the natural tear film. If you struggle with dryness, your doctor may recommend reducing your contact lens wear time, changing solutions or contact lens brands, or directly treating other underlying causes of dryness. With any discomfort after wearing contacts you should call your doctor to be sure it isn’t something more serious.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC): GPC is a type of allergic reaction on the inside of your eyelids. Usually they get red, swollen, and irritated with little red bumps. It often feels like something is stuck in your eye. GPC can be stubborn to get rid of so seeking treatment early is critical. You will often need to wear glasses for a few weeks while using a prescribed eye drop or ointment to reduce redness and swelling. And always check with your doctor before resuming wear of your contacts! Most likely a different type of contact will need to be prescribed to you to prevent recurrence of this condition.
Corneal Ulcers: Yes, this one is as bad as it sounds. A corneal ulcer is an open sore on your cornea. Symptoms include redness of the eye, severe pain, tearing, discharge, blurred vision, and light sensitivity. Corneal ulcers often result from improper contact lens wear, such as sleeping or swimming in contacts, wearing beyond the recommended replacement schedule, and not replacing solutions or cases. Usually, a doctor will need to prescribe anti-infective and anti-inflammatory eye drops to treat the ulcer. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary if vision loss has occurred. If you go into your doctor at the first sign of discomfort, you’ll likely be just fine!
So, how do we prevent these issues while wearing contacts? Here is a list of the basic steps to contact lens care:
Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling your contact lenses.
Never use water or saliva to rewet your contacts.
Never wear your contacts longer than directed.
Never sleep in your contacts.
Always replace your contact lenses per your doctor’s instructions.
Always remove your contacts when showering, swimming, or bathing.
Always have a backup pair of glasses in case something does happen.
Use fresh solution each time you clean and store your contacts.
Replace your contact lens case every one to three months.
See your doctor annually and call when you have a question or concern.
We don’t want to scare you out of wearing contact lenses, but it is important to know the risks. The good news? When you create good contact lens habits with these basic care tips, it can be the difference of comfortable long-term contact wearing and getting an infection! If you’re ready to try contacts out, give us a call and we can help you get clearer vision without glasses!