contact lens complications
woman putting in a contact lense

Contact Lens Problems: Are You At Risk?

Posted on August 25, 2023 by Henry Ford Health Staff
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Have you ever fallen asleep with your contact lenses in? Or maybe you've been less than vigilant about swapping out your contact lens solution — or you've worn a set of contact lenses longer than recommended. Unfortunately, while these things may be common practices, they can lead to serious contact lens complications.

“People need to be vigilant about wearing, cleaning and storing contact lenses properly as well as practicing good contact lens hygiene,” says Sejal Amin, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Henry Ford Health. “Being lax about these practices can cause problems ranging from mild irritation to eye infections such as corneal ulcers, which can ultimately lead to vision loss and even blindness.”

How Do I Know If My Contacts Are Causing Problems?

If your eyes are becoming red or irritated, you should immediately remove your contacts and avoid using them until symptoms completely resolve. If your symptoms persist, or if you experience any of the following warning signs, you should see an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive exam to be evaluated for contact lens-related complications:

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  • Eye pain or discomfort
  • Excessive discharge
  • Eye redness
  • Unusually watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Decreased vision

10 Tips To Help Prevent Contact Lens Complications

Best case scenario? Preventing contact lens complications altogether with these expert tips: 

  1. Wash your hands. Before touching your contacts, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Rub your contact lenses while cleaning them. Even if you use a multipurpose solution, rubbing your lenses gently while cleaning them helps to loosen the protein and bacteria that can build up, ultimately reducing the risk of infection.
  3. Only use contact lens solution. Rinse your contact lenses and case with fresh, store-bought solution—not water. Ideally you may even consider using a hydrogen peroxide-based solution when indicated by your eye care specialist. 
  4. Dry your contact lens case. After you have rinsed your case, leave it open to let it air dry.
  5. Never sleep with your contacts on. Sleeping with your contact lenses on can significantly increase your risk of contact lens-related complications and infections—and can make it feel like they’re glued to your eyes when you wake up. This is true even for extended-wear contact lenses that are “approved” for 30-day continuous wear. 
  6. Maintain your hygiene routine when traveling. When the rest of your routine is changing, it is easy to be lax about contact lens hygiene. Make sure you pack enough solution, a clean case, extra contacts and your glasses for backup. 
  7. Never put contact lenses in your mouth. The practice for rewetting lenses in your mouth can lead to an eye infection or even blindness, since your mouth has a lot more bacteria than your eyes are equipped to handle. 
  8. Don’t stretch your contact lens period. Follow your contact lens replacement schedule. For many, this means weekly or monthly disposable lenses. No matter what duration contacts you wear, it is important to replace them on their appropriate schedule. 
  9. Keep up with your regular eye exams. Routine eye exams give your eye care team an opportunity to detect not only contact lens-related complications, but also help to adjust prescriptions as you age and recognize issues early on. 
  10. Take a contact lens holiday. “If your eyes are irritated, sometimes taking a contact lens break for a day or two and then slowly reintroducing the lenses is enough to resolve the problem,” Dr. Amin says. “In other cases, prescription medications may be needed.”

Reviewed by Sejal Amin, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Henry Ford Health who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Livonia and Henry Ford OptimEyes Super Vision Center – Westland. 

 
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