Do You Love Your Contacts as Much as You Used Too?

A Japanese woman puts in a contact lens.

Let’s face it, most people who wear contact lenses have a love-hate relationship with them.

Ah…the exhilaration of that first pair of contact lenses when for the first time you, who have known the struggle with glasses, are able to see without anyone knowing that, in reality, you can’t. But, that sense of freedom can be fleeting once you realize that contacts, too, have limitations. And, for many, the disappointment sets in when signs of contact lens intolerance appear. It begins with a slight irritation or dry eye; but over time, it can become a sight-threatening issue.

What is contact lens intolerance?

Contact lens intolerance happens when a person’s eyes get irritated when they put in their contacts – becoming bothersome enough that they want to take them out and stop wearing them. Symptoms can be temporary and range from a mild gritty or stinging sensation to more serious issues such as chronic dry eye, abrasions, infections and even corneal ulcers. And for some, these complications are sight-threatening – for up to 1 in 500 contact lens users per year – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing a study published in 2008.

What causes contact lens intolerance?

There are several possible factors. It could be that the fit isn’t right. Perhaps age or hormone changes are contributing factors.  Certainly the over-wearing of lenses and the resulting deposits developing on the surface of the lens is as issue, as is not cleaning lenses properly, or sensitivity to lens cleaning solutions; all are associated with the spectrum of symptoms in contact lens intolerance. Whatever the cause, people with contact lens intolerance are better off looking for alternative solutions, such as switching to glasses or having LASIK eye surgery to correct their vision permanently without needing corrective lenses of any type.

Even people who don’t suffer from contact lens intolerance eventually find that the appeal of contacts begins to fade. All types of contact lenses reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the cornea – the front of the eye where the contact resides.  Even with proper care and meticulous hygiene, this can lead to an increased risk of eye problems.

A recently published study of long-term (<5 years) contact lens users showed that, over a 3-year period, their level of satisfaction with using contact lenses decreased significantly: from 63 percent down to 54 percent. The study also showed that people who used to use contacts, but then chose to have LASIK eye surgery, had a much higher level of satisfaction with their vision that only improved over time.  Importantly, LASIK has a much lower risk of sight threatening infection – 1 in 10,000 according to clinical research.

If you wear contacts and experience symptoms such as red, irritated eyes, ongoing dry eye symptoms, pain or swelling, it’s vital you don’t ignore any of these symptoms. To protect the health of your eyes and vision, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Donnenfeld at Long Island LASIK immediately as you may be contact lens intolerant. It may be time for you to consider other forms of vision correction, such as LASIK.

 

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