Contact Lens Problems
Contact lenses are a popular and convenient form of non-surgical vision correction; however, some people may experience contact lens problems. Here at Allon Barsam, we talk to many patients who have reached the point where they are looking for freedom from contact lenses and the problems they can bring. Laser eye surgery is a popular next step for many contact lens wearers due to the problems they face on a regular basis.
Alternatives to contact lenses
If you have experienced contact lens problems or would prefer to seek an alternative solution, there are several possible options to investigate. We provide information on the advantages and disadvantages of contact lenses and laser eye surgery.
Here we list known issues that can be caused by contact lenses and how they can affect vision.
Do contact lenses cause discomfort?
Sensations of discomfort while wearing contact lenses are not uncommon. Contact lens discomfort can be related to:
- the lens itself (with possible contact lens problems including the design of lens, the lens material or the fit)
- the environment (air conditioning, computer usage, central heating)
- individual factors such as dry eye and tear film abnormalities, lid disorders and medications being taken.
Discomfort can include:
– foreign body sensation (the feeling that you have something in your eye)
– decreased lens tolerance and wearing time. In some instances this discomfort can cause eyes to appear slightly pink. All of these sensations are reduced once the lenses are removed.
– Contact lens solution sensitivity and reactions: For lenses that are worn for more than one day, regular cleaning is necessary, and there are a variety of different contact lens solutions available in the market. A small percentage of people can experience an allergy to the solutions they use. This is usually due to the preservatives within the solutions and can occur after being used for a period of time.
Other common contact lens issues
- Giant papillary conjunctivitis: Giant papillary conjunctivitis is a type of intolerance that can develop to the contact lenses themselves. It results in discomfort, lens intolerance and eye redness which can be treated and requires refitting of new lenses.
- Mechanical injury : Mechanical injury is a problem sometimes experienced by contact lens wearers that can occur due to damage to the contact lens. This leads to lens discomfort and can cause damage to the cornea that may require medical intervention.
- Corneal ulcer: Corneal ulcers are usually caused by a bacterial infection that reaches the cornea. They are often associated with the wearing of contact lenses, especially while sleeping or swimming or without practising good hygiene. Left untreated, corneal ulcers can lead to sight loss.
- Corneal hypoxia: Corneal hypoxia is a common contact lens complication that occurs due to reduced oxygen reaching the cornea. It can happen if contact lenses are worn too much. It is less common in modern contact lens designs but if it occurs it results in corneal vascularisation, and in the acute stages, corneal ulceration, which can be sight threatening.
- Contact lens induced red eye: Contact lens-induced red eye can happen when contact lenses are worn too much, and results in an acute red eye and pain that requires cessation of lens wear until resolution.
- Microbial keratitis: Microbial keratitis is a very serious, sight-threatening condition that can occur as a result of poor hygiene. It is the most severe of contact lens problems and requires immediate medical attention and treatment. Patients will present with an acutely painful eye that waters and is sensitive to light. The eye may be red and it usually only affects one eye. It can result in the development of a corneal ulcer that can permanently affect vision due to scarring. Immediate medical intervention is required and microbial keratitis is classed as an ocular emergency.