Does this sound like you? You’ve worn prescription contact lenses since you were a teen with nary a problem once you learned how to put them in, take them out and care for them. Then slowly over time… ouch! Your eyes burn when you wear contacts now for extended periods of time. What gives?
You may have developed a condition known as contact lens intolerance (CLI). CLI is unfortunately very common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 41 million contact wearers in the United States – and a majority of them have experienced lens intolerance.
What exactly is contact lens intolerance? How does it happen, and more importantly, what can you do about it?
What is contact lens intolerance (CLI)?
Contact lens intolerance is as it sounds: an intolerance for contact lenses. CLI usually happens to long-time contact lens users who develop a sensitivity or allergy to their contacts or to lens cleaning solution. Consequently, they can no longer wear contacts without irritation.
With CLI, the eye may “reject” the lens as a foreign body. There are several reasons for this, which we’ll discuss shortly.
What are the symptoms of Contact Lens Intolerance?
Someone with CLI will begin experiencing discomfort upon inserting contact lenses and may get immediate relief after removal. Common symptoms of contact lens intolerance include:
- Dry eyes
- Eye pain
- Excessive tearing
- Redness and itchiness
- Foreign body sensation
In time, contact lens intolerance can lead to additional complications:
- Eye injury
- Corneal ulcers
- Corneal abrasions
Be aware that a number of eye diseases and conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it’s important never to assume you have developed contact lens intolerance. Switch to eyeglasses immediately and make an appointment with your eye doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.
CLI is most often caused by a build-up of bacteria, fungus or other contaminants on the contact lens over time. The longer the wearer uses a set of contacts, the more potential to collect contaminants and the higher the potential for a sudden immune response.
The risk of developing contact lens intolerance increases exponentially with poor contact lens hygiene. If you or someone you know has practiced one or more of these bad habits, your eye irritation could be CLI:
- Topping off cleaning solution
- Cleaning lenses in tap water
- Sleeping in contact lenses
- Wearing damaged or dirty contacts
- Wearing contacts while showering or swimming
- Wearing lenses past the recommended disposal date
- Not washing hands before inserting or removing contacts
If you’ve engaged in any of these poor contact lens hygiene behaviors – and/or are a longtime contact user – and are now experiencing irritation with contact use, you may have CLI. Your eye doctor can help you determine if you have contact lens intolerance and possibly discover the root cause.
One of the most popular ways to eliminate CLI is through SoftTouch LASIK or the SMILE procedure. By removing the need for contact lenses, you are able to eliminate the risk of irritation and infection they cause. Call Lake Lazer Eye Center for your consultation with Dr. Khambati to discuss your contact lens frustrations and find out if you qualify for one of our modern vision correction treatments.
Lake Lazer Eye Center offers up-front pricing, and convenient and affordable payment plans for SoftTouch LASIK and the SMILE procedure. Dr. Khambati has helped thousands of Detroit LASIK patients and people from all over the world escape the restrictions of glasses and contacts. In the event that you’re not a candidate for vision correction, we’ll assist you with a contact lens evaluation or a selection of designer and specialty eyewear.