4 Signs Your Dry Eye Syndrome May Be “Contact Lens Intolerance”

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on August 4, 2023

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 41 million contact lens wearers in the United States – and most of them have contact lens intolerance or will have it eventually.

Contact lens intolerance (CLI) is a common condition in which contact lenses suddenly begin to cause eye irritation. Even if you’ve never heard of it, if you’re a longtime contact lens wearer, you’ve probably experienced it.

Because your eyes are very delicate, it’s important to know what CLI is, what causes it, how to treat it and how to keep it from happening again. Here are four signs that your eye troubles could be contact lens intolerance.

1. You think you might have dry eye syndrome.

Dry eye isn’t usually serious, but then your symptoms might not actually be dry eye syndrome. * Contact lens intolerance shares some of the same symptoms:

These symptoms alone don’t necessarily indicate CLI. However, these symptoms in combination with the next three signs could be strong indicators that your contacts are to blame.

* Whether your symptoms are the result of dry eye syndrome or CLI, you should see an eye doctor for help. Untreated lens intolerance can develop into more serious, sight-threatening conditions.

2. Symptoms arise when you put in your contacts.

Pay attention to when your eye irritation sets in. If it starts soon after you put in your contact lenses, it may be CLI.

Never ignore eye irritation, especially discomfort that is associated with contact lens use. In time, contact lens intolerance can lead to additional complications, such as infections, corneal ulcers and corneal abrasions. If you experience the following symptoms in addition to CLI symptoms, make an appointment with your eye care provider immediately. 

These could be signs of more serious complications:

3. You’re an old pro at wearing contact lenses.

Contrary to what many might assume, people with the most experience wearing contacts are at greater risk of developing contact lens intolerance than newbies. This could be for a variety of reasons.

Over time, your eyes can develop a sensitivity either to materials used in the manufacture of your lenses or the solution used to clean them. There may also be an invisible buildup of contaminants on the lenses that is producing a reaction. This is why #4 on our list is so important.

4. You don’t always follow the rules of contact use.

While it is rare to be allergic to contact lenses themselves – they are manufactured using hypoallergenic materials and processes – reactions to contamination are common. 

According to surveys conducted by the CDC, only about 50 percent of contact wearers complied with their eye doctor’s instructions for lens care. Nearly all study participants reported engaging in at least one bad contact habit. Bad contact lens hygiene is the most common cause of CLI.

To reduce your risk of contact lens intolerance, follow this advice.

  1. Clean your contact lenses and lens case frequently.
  2. Replace contact solution often – do NOT top off.
  3. Replace the lens case monthly.
  4. Never share contacts or wear someone else’s.
  5. Wash hands before touching your contacts or eyes.
  6. Use eye drops to cleanse eyes and reduce irritation.
  7. Try daily disposable lenses to reduce contamination risks.

Eliminate CLI with LASIK.

The only surefire way to completely avoid contact lens intolerance is to avoid contact lenses. If your contact lenses are causing you discomfort for any reason, consider getting out of them for good with permanent vision correction. Missouri Eye Institute offers customized LASIK treatment to help you achieve visual freedom from glasses and contacts – so you never have to worry about lens intolerance again.
Missouri Eye Institute has helped thousands of patients attain freedom from glasses and contact lenses. Contact us at (800) 383-3831 to schedule a thorough eye exam or visit MissouriEye.com to learn more about our services.


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