Can Contact Lenses Cause Eye Problems?

by Aug 30, 2022

Wearing contact lenses is a great alternative to glasses for many people. However, there are risks associated with wearing contact lenses, especially if the contact lenses are worn longer than they are designed to be worn.


Types of Contacts

Knowing the type of contacts that you wear is important so that you can make sure to wear the lenses how you are supposed to wear them.

Whether the lenses are designed to be worn for a single day and disposed of, worn for each day of a month but taken out and cleaned at night, or worn consecutively even while sleeping for a week, making sure that you follow the doctor’s instructions is important for contact lens health.

If you are unsure what type of contact lenses you have or want, consult your eye doctor and find out what options you may have!


When Problems Occur with Contacts

Problems and complications are uncommon with proper contact lens wear. All contact lenses have been approved by the FDA and are prescribed and managed by your eye doctor to minimize any risk of problems.

However, when the contact lenses are worn for longer than they are supposed to be worn, worn overnight, cleaned with tap water or saliva, worn without an in-person exam, or worn with an active infection, there is a much higher risk of a problem occurring.

The type and severity of the problem may vary depending on what lens and what issue has caused the problem.


Dry Eyes Due to Contact Lenses

The most common issue associated with contact lenses is increased dry eye symptoms. This can cause irritation or a feeling of something in the eye.

Wearing a contact lens can exacerbate these symptoms if not done in the proper manner. The type of contact lens chosen will likely be less likely to cause dry eye and the duration of wear time may be shorter to reduce the likelihood of dry eye symptoms at the end of the day.

To treat dry eye from contact lenses, artificial tears which are preservative free or safe for contact lenses can be used throughout the day and the contact lenses may need to be worn for fewer hours each day.


Corneal Abrasion Due to Contact Lenses

A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the front of the eye which can be extremely painful and cause redness, tearing, and blurred vision.

While it is highly unlikely that a contact lens which was fit by an eye doctor will ever cause an abrasion, some contact lenses which are available online or through other sellers may be more likely to harm the eye.

Even more likely is that the contact lens is not the cause of the abrasion, but it occurs when trying to remove the contact lens.

If the lens is worn overnight without approval, it may become dry and difficult to remove from the eye. If the eye is scratched during the attempt to remove the contact lens, a corneal abrasion will occur.

Cornea abrasions are treated with an antibiotic eye drop and over-the-counter pain medication for a few days while the abrasion heals. Contact lens wear will also be stopped during the healing process.


Corneal Ulcer From Contact Lens Use

The worst problem associated with contact lenses is a corneal ulcer. This is a large infection on the front of the eye that has damaged the eye and will cause pain, a red eye, discharge such as mucus, and reduced vision.

A corneal ulcer is a very serious condition and will require aggressive and prompt treatment to prevent significant scarring on the eye.

The infection can come from wearing dirty contacts, cleaning contacts improperly, or simply wearing the contacts for too long.

A corneal ulcer will be treated with antibiotic eye drops, a bandage lens, and eventually steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation during healing.


Our eye doctors at Neal Eye Group in Conshohocken, PA excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrists at (610) 828-9701 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about contact lenses or are experiencing any contact lens problems.  Our optometrists provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Conshohocken, Norristown, Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette Hill, and Philadelphia.

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