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Contact Lens Irritation: What to Do if Your Contacts Feel Uncomfortable

woman with hand to face due to contact lens irritation

Do your contact lenses sometimes feel uncomfortable? There could be an easy fix for that. After all, over 60% of people tend to not take good care of their contact lenses.

This isn't just one of the main causes for contact lens irritation, but it can also contribute to a significant risk of eye infection or worse.

If your contact lenses feel uncomfortable, there are numerous reasons why this could be. To help you out, let’s look at the main factors to be aware of, as well as the steps to take if your lenses continue to feel uncomfortable.

Causes of Contact Lens Irritation

Poor Lens Care

extreme close up of putting lens solution on contact lens on fingertip

Every contact lens comes with specific recommended care instructions from the manufacturer that you should follow. There are also basic best practices that you need to ensure you're aware of such as the following:

Clean Your Lens

If your hand is wet and you put it on the floor, you'll see a variety of dust and dirt stick to it.

In the same way, your contact lens is kept moist by your eyes and is prone to contaminants sticking to it. After removing your lens, ensure you clean it following the given instructions before placing it in the case.

Wash Your Hands

This one seems obvious, yet we see many people think it's ok to quickly take a contact lens out and put it back in to readjust it.

The fact is, there's no time when it's safe to touch your contact lens or eye if you haven't washed your hands. Every time, you'll expose your eye to bacteria and dirt, which significantly increases your risk of irritation and infection.

Wearing Lenses Too Long

If you spend long hours staring at a computer screen or in front of a TV, you may find your contact lenses begin to feel dry.

This can be for two reasons. Firstly, we tend to blink less when staring at screens, meaning we don't keep our eyes as hydrated as they need to be. Second, you may be wearing your lenses longer than they're designed for.

While some lenses can be worn all day, others are designed for only a few hours, so ensure you check their expiration dates and proper use on the packaging.

However, even with proper care, some people still experience problems beyond their control.

close up of woman’s eye as she inserts contact lens

Incorrect Fit

The shape and size of your eye will affect how comfortably a lens rests on top of it. The wrong lens may end up drifting and irritating your eye further.

Fortunately, there are contact lenses available that can help mediate this problem such as gas permeable or scleral lenses.

You Have Dry Eyes

Eyes and contact lenses stay hydrated by the tears produced by glands in your eye. Unfortunately, some people don't create tears often enough, leading to dryness.

There are many reasons why this happens. For some, it's simply medical. For others, habits such as smoking or staring at screens for too long can be the cause.

If you find that your eyes get dry easily, have a look through the different brands of lenses we carry to find the ones that help keep your eyes moist, such as 1-Day Acuvue Moist and Air Optix HydraGlyde.

dog and cat who may trigger allergies and contact lens irritation

Allergies

Changes in your environment don't just cause allergies like hay fever. They can also affect your eyes. You may go to an apartment with a lot of dander from pets or find yourself in a dry area with a lot of dust in the air.

In situations like this, allergens may come into contact with your lens, leading to significant discomfort.

What to Do

If you are experiencing contact lens discomfort right now, then these are the steps you should take:

1. Try Blinking

This sounds simple, but sometimes your eyes just need to be rehydrated naturally. As mentioned above, you may have simply been staring at a screen too long.

Take some time to look away and rest your eyes while blinking to try and bring some moisture back.

2. Wash Your Hands

If the first step is unsuccessful, wash and dry your hands so you can safely remove your lens.

Be aware that tap water should not come into contact with the lens because it contains bacteria and can cause the lens to swell, making it sit uncomfortably in the eye.

3. Remove Your Lens and Clean It

Take the lens out and rub it between your fingers with some solution to help remove any debris that may be on it. Then place it back in a case with fresh solution to give your eye some time to adjust before putting it back in.

If you don't have a solution or case available, lubricating drops created specifically for contact lenses can help. Otherwise, your only option will be to throw away the lens, as placing it back in your eye without cleaning can lead to infection.

4. Consider a New Lens

If your lens is clean and your eyes are still uncomfortable, then you're probably affected by one of the factors listed above.

In that case, it's recommended you try a different brand or consult with an optometrist to establish the best lens for you.

There Are Many Options

There's a surprisingly big difference in the lenses available and some will be more suited for your eyes than others.

Contact lens irritation can be annoying and disruptive to your day, so it's worth taking the time to find the best type and brand for you. From daily lenses to lenses that can last a month, there are many varieties all designed for specific uses.

Be sure to check out the lens brands currently on sale.

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