Many people enjoy wearing contact lenses instead of glasses for a variety of reasons. Unlike glasses, contacts don’t alter a person’s appearance, and some people find contacts to be a more convenient option than glasses. However, contact lenses can sometimes start bothering you and become uncomfortable or irritating to wear, even for long-time wearers. This is also known as contact lens intolerance (CLI), and it can affect up to 15% of contact lens wearers.
Contact lens intolerance is a general term used to describe pain, irritation, or discomfort experienced while wearing contact lenses. This can be an immediate reaction to wearing contacts, but it can also impact people who have been comfortably wearing contact lenses for months or even years. Some potential causes of CLI, include:
- Reaction to contact lens care products
- Improper contact lens-wearing regimen
- Duration of lens wear
- Dry eye2
- Diet & Nutrition
- Lens materials
- Poor contact fit
Some people only experience occasional contact lens intolerance, while others encounter intolerance so severe that they simply can’t wear contact lenses anymore.
For most people, contact lens intolerance is not permanent. Still, people shouldn’t need to experience discomfort in their quest for clearer vision. If you struggle with contact lens intolerance that is especially uncomfortable or frequent, you should discuss the issue with Dr. Rivers. In the meantime, there are some steps you can take to try to ease your discomfort.
Contact lens intolerance can be attributed to the products people buy to care for their lenses. These products may contain preservatives that can cause hypersensitivity. If you have recently begun to struggle with CLI and have also switched to a different solution, that could be the culprit.3
Other common sources of contact lens intolerance are sleeping in your lenses, wearing contacts for too long, or not making sure they are properly cleaned and disinfected every time you insert them. Make sure you always follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to contact lens wear and care.
Sometimes, the source of contact lens intolerance is simply dryness. Try using over-the-counter artificial tears or lubricant eye drops indicated for use with contact lenses and see if that provides you with relief of CLI symptoms, if only temporarily. Don’t forget the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, stop and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
3. Diet & Nutrition
Again, dry eye is a common source of contact lens intolerance. Did you know that your diet and nutritional habits may be impacting your tear production or the quality of your tears? Speak with your eye doctor to help identify ways supplementing your diet may help you produce more, quality tears to keep your eyes comfortable.
If you suffer from frequent or long-term contact lens intolerance, you may need to consider switching to glasses, at least a few days a week. This could give your eyes a rest from contacts and help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms.
Of course, the ideal way to ease your contact lens intolerance is to eliminate the need for any corrective lenses at all. At Envue Eye & Laser Center we offer a range of vision correction surgical options, including SMILE flapless LASIK, LASIK, PRK, EVO Visian ICL, Refractive lens exchange or cataract surgery. All of the vision correction options we offer have favorable safety profiles and are associated with a high rate of patient satisfaction.
If you are frustrated by symptoms of contact lens intolerance or are ready to explore more permanent vision correction solutions, we are here to help. Please call us at 301-485-9533 or request a free consultation today.
- American Refractive Surgery Council. Why contact lens wearers need their annual eye exam. Available: https://americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org/contact-lens-problems-it-might-be-contact-lens-intolerance/. Accessed January 3, 2023.
2. Dumbleton K, Caffery B, Dogru M, Hickson-Curran S, Kern J, Kojima T, Morgan PB, Purslow C, Robertson DM, Nelson JD; members of the TFOS International Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort. The TFOS International Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort: report of the subcommittee on epidemiology. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Oct 18;54(11):TFOS20-36.
3. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Contact lenses: when a solution is the problem. Available: https://www.aao.org/eyenet/article/contact-lenses-when-solution-is-problem?august-2012. Accessed January 3, 2023.