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How to Deal with Contact Lens Discomfort

Do your eyes itch or burn when wearing contact lenses? There are several reasons why you may be experiencing contact lens discomfort. Discover the possible causes behind the problem and see what you can do to relieve your discomfort.

What Causes Contact Lens Discomfort?

Some of the top causes of uncomfortable contacts are:

Dry eyes

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that arises when your tears can’t keep your eyes sufficiently lubricated due to an imbalance in the tear film. Certain diseases, medications and environmental factors, like high levels of dryness and wind, can cause or contribute to red, itchy or irritated eyes, especially when wearing contacts.

Allergies

Allergens are typically harmless substances that induce an allergic response in certain people. Pollen, mold, dust and pet dander are some of the most common airborne allergens that trigger eye allergies. Cosmetics and certain eye drops, such as artificial tears with preservatives, can also induce eye allergies, which can make contact lens wear uncomfortable.

Corneal irregularities

The cornea at the front of the eye may be irregularly shaped due to astigmatism, keratoconus, eye surgeries (i.e. LASIK or cataract surgery), eye injuries or burns, scarring, corneal ulcers and/or severe dry eye. Irregular corneas often prevent traditional contact lenses from fitting correctly and comfortably.

Symptoms of Contact Lens Discomfort 

  • Burning, itchy, stinging eyes
  • Sensation of something being stuck is in the eye
  • Excessive watering or tearing of the eyes
  • Unusual eye secretions
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Reduced sharpness of vision
  • Blurred vision, rainbows, or halos around objects
  • Sensitivity to light

How to Relieve Contact Lens Discomfort

Try Different Contact Lenses

Nowadays, there are many types of contact lenses on the market, including specialty contacts for dry eyes and astigmatism. Meet with our optometrist for a personalized eye exam for contacts.

With the variety of contact lens brands available, switching to a different contact lens may be the simplest answer if you’re experiencing discomfort that isn’t connected to improper fitting or issues with tear production. If your existing lenses fit well but still irritate and dry out your eyes, speak to us about trying a different design or brand of contact lenses, or changing your lens-wearing schedule. 

Artificial Tears or Eye Drops

Over-the-counter artificial tears or eye drops are a common way to temporarily relieve contact lens discomfort. However, it’s important to keep in mind that unless prescribed by an eye doctor, they may not be treating the root of the problem. 

Moreover, certain eye drops are incompatible with contact lenses, and may damage your contacts or harm your eyes. We also recommend staying away from products that claim to remove redness from your eyes, which temporarily reduce the size of blood vessels to lessen redness, but do not address the underlying cause of the condition, and can actually worsen it over time.  

Take Good Care of Your Lenses

Inadequate contact lens care leaves residue on your lenses, which can discomfort, harmful eye infections and inflammation. Below are a few important contact lens hygiene guidelines to follow:

  • Before handling your contact lenses, thoroughly wash and dry your hands.
  • Remove your lenses before showering, bathing or swimming to prevent infection. 
  • Do not sleep in your contact lenses (unless they are approved for sleeping). 
  • Replace your contact lenses according to the manufacturer’s instructions (e.g., don’t reuse daily wear lenses).
  • Regularly clean your contact lens case and ask your eye doctor when to replace it.
  • Only use a contact lens solution that is appropriate for your lenses. 
  • Never reuse or mix contact lens solutions.
  • Schedule regular appointments with your eye doctor.

If you are experiencing discomfort with your contact lenses, get in touch with The Contact Lens Institute of Nevada in Las Vegas today. We’ll get to the bottom of the problem and provide effective solutions for all-day comfort.

Q&A

What kinds of contacts are available?

Contact lenses are available in a wide range of materials and replacement schedules. Disposable contact lenses and extended wear contacts are the most convenient for many users.

I’ve already been fitted for contact lenses, so why did my optometrist ask me to come back?

If you’re asked to return a week later, it’s because your optometrist wants to rule out any issues, such as contact lens-related dry eye or irritation.

If it’s been around a year since your last eye checkup, you’ve likely been contacted to check whether your prescription has changed and to evaluate your eye health. The sooner problems are detected and treated, the better the outcome. 

Presbyopia Patient Looking For Alternative To Eyeglasses

Sharing a case we recently worked on with custom soft lenses.

50 year old female was looking for an alternative to glasses that would also allow her to see up close and far. She reported that she first wore glasses when she was in 1st grade and has a history of high astigmatism. During our exam, we found that she had limbal to limbal corneal astigmatism and her manifest Rx was :

Right eye: Plano-3.00×016 (20/20)
Left eye: +1.75x-4.25×165 (20/20)

Based on our findings, we felt that she would benefit from several different lens options between monovision or multifocal GP lenses, hybrids, sclerals, or custom softs. Due to her history of previous soft contact lens wear and finances at this time, the patient opted for a custom soft contact lens.

We fit her into monovision Specialeyes in both eyes. Specialeyes is a company that makes custom soft contact lenses. This will work much better for patients with higher amounts of astigmatism, compared to traditional soft contact lenses. The patient reported good comfort and was excited to be able to see her cell phone without any glasses on! She was able to achieve binocular 20/20 distance and 20/20 near!

OD specialeyes CL

OD cornea

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Are there treatment options after LASIK?

We had a very lovely young lady kindly referred to us from Dr. Wellish!

This patient suffers from extreme dry eye syndrome. She had LASIK eye surgery performed years ago, and she did quite well until having children. She explained to me that her eyes became very dry, painful and uncomfortable after having kids. This could be due to a fluctuation in hormone levels.

Patients who undergo LASIK eye surgery can also be at risk for neurotrophic keratitis, a condition in which the corneal nerves become desensitized and thus causes more corneal issues such as severe dry eye and non-healing defects.

Despite multiple treatments including prescription eye drops, lacrisert, punctal plugs, artificial tears, gels, and Lipiflow, she still remains uncomfortable. Currently, she uses Cequa twice per day, refresh tears every hour or two hours, Celluvisc every 3-4 hours, autologous serum tears twice per day, Lacrisert every week, and gel at night.

She complains that her eyes are very dry and uncomfortable, especially when reading or looking at the computer.

After reviewing all options, we decided to perform sMap 3D imaging to take a 3D scan of her eyes. This information will be used to create a custom scleral lens called the Latitude. Hopefully, the lens will provide a barrier for her eye and the outside environment to provide her some relief. The bowl of the scleral lens is also filled with non-preserved saline, which should also help improve her eye comfort and staining.

I also added Regener-Eyes and Eyesuvis to her current eye care regimen to see if those eye drops can offer any additional relief.

Looking forward to her dispense!

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Custom Scleral Lenses Help Physician to See Better

We had the pleasure of seeing our patient back for a Latitude custom scleral lens dispense today.

This patient had LASIK surgery years ago, and he had monovision correction. This means that one eye is corrected for distance and one eye is corrected for near. In his case, the right eye was corrected for distance and the left eye was corrected for near.

He was successful for many years, and he was able to function glasses-free.

He was seen by his primary care ophthalmologist, Dr. Paul Casey, for his annual exam a few months ago. Dr. Casey had discovered that this patient developed some highly irregular astigmatism in both eyes, likely due to the LASIK surgery.

Even though the vision was still quite good (around 20/25 both far and near), Dr. Casey wanted him to see me for an evaluation due to a desire to improve vision quality.

This patient saw us for a consultation in February 2021 and he stated that although he saw clearly, some of the images were a bit distorted, and he had a bit of ghosting at night.

When we viewed his topography, we could see why the vision became more distorted at night time. As the pupil increases in size, he starts to see into the midperipheral cornea, which is more distorted in shape.

We also found that he had more than 7 diopters of cylinder in the left eye. Both eyes exhibited irregular topography images.

Dr. Casey has been repeating the topography scans every 3 months and for the past year, the patient has been completely stable.

We decided to put a diagnostic scleral lens on for fun, just to see if it would improve his vision.

With the Europa scleral lens on each eye and an over-refraction, the patient could see 20/20 in each eye and, most importantly, he noticed a huge improvement in the overall QUALITY of vision. This is important because even if someone can technically see 20/20, that does not mean that they have good vision. If the vision is distorted, blurred, has haloes, or glare, it can be very disturbing to the patient. Since he was so happy with the improvement in the quality of vision, we decided to proceed with a scleral lens fitting.

Due to the highly irregular curvature of each cornea, we decided to proceed with a custom scleral lens design, called the Latitude scleral lens. We took 3D images of the eye with the sMap machine, and the laboratory designed a pair of custom scleral lenses for him.

At the dispense, visit, he noticed the vision was very good. He was seeing 20/20 at far and 20/20 at near. The OCT images showed that there was a bit of shallow clearance, but we dispensed the lenses and followed up with him one week later.

At the one week follow up, Dr. Wong noticed that the clearance was a bit too shallow superiorly. Although the patient loved his new vision, we had to re-design his lenses for safety purposes. He also mentioned that when he removes his lenses, they are really stuck on his eye and they feel like champagne bottles popping off his eye. This is not normal and usually means the fit needs to be modified.

Today, we saw him for another Latitude dispense. The lab made some minor adjustments to the lenses to increase the fluid layer underneath the scleral lenses to help improve the fit and help with lens removal.

He mentioned the new lenses were even more comfortable than the old lenses, and we were very happy that the new lenses showed more central and midperipheral clearance.

We feel very honored to have worked with such an amazing patient! Scleral lenses are so rewarding, and it is an honor to be a part of their journey to better vision.

Contact lenses for high astigmatism

We saw our Latitude scleral lens patient today for his dispense and insertion/removal training.

He is a 35 year old white male and he has regular astigmatism, but a large amount (over 5 diopters in the left eye). He’s tried many different contact lenses in the past, but he complains that they don’t seem to fit correctly and the vision also seems sub-optimal. Patients with large amounts of astigmatism often see better with more custom lenses, due to the fact that standard soft contact lenses have limited parameters and availability. Most standard soft contact lenses can go up to 2.75 diopters of astigmatism. If you have more than this, the options become more limited. I always recommend more custom contact lenses for patients with higher amounts of cylinder.

After reviewing the images of his eye together and explaining pros and cons of different lens types, we decided to try the Latitude custom scleral lens. The reason we selected this option is because it is very stable on the eye, so the the optics are likely to be superior to his soft contact lenses. When you have a large amount of astigmatism, it is very important that contact lens centers on the eye and remains stable. If there is any sort of rotation of the contact lens, the vision could be affected. This is why patients with large amounts of astigmatism usually see better with a more custom lens, such as a scleral lens.

The lenses fit very well on both eyes and he can see 20/20 in the right eye and 20/30 in the left eye. He did take a small over refraction on each eye, which improved his vision to 20/20 in the left eye. The lenses move slightly with blink, but I never change the lens fit at the dispense, because the lens fitting relationship could be changed within a week or so.

He is coming back in a few weeks for a follow up visit, and we will reassess his vision and the fit of the lens at that time. He is also going to be one of our patients at the Global Specialty Lens Symposium workshop, so if you are attending the workshop, we will be able to see the progression of his interesting case! Thank you Visionary Optics for the Latitude scleral lenses – we can’t wait to see how he does over the next few weeks and also at the workshop!