Problems with wearing contact lenses

Although contact lenses are used by millions of people every day, they can be the cause of permanent eye damage if they are inadequately maintained and as a result of poor hygiene and/or skipping regular ophthalmologist check-ups.

The most common eye diseases and eye injuries related to the use of contact lenses are the following:

Acanthamoeba keratitis

Acanthamoeba is a microscopic parasite that is present in water and which can infect the cornea, causing keratitis. The disease occurs almost exclusively in those who wear contact lenses. The main risk factors are swimming in pools, lakes and in the sea while wearing contact lenses, storing contact lenses in home-made solutions and poor contact lens hygiene. Severe pain, redness of the eyes and minimal discharge are typical of this disease. The diagnosis is determined with a microscopic examination of cells that are taken from the corneal surface. Acanthamoeba may be treated with antibiotics and antifungal medication. Despite adequate treatment, severe scarring can develop in the cornea which later requires keratoplasty (corneal transplantation) for vision to be improved.

Corneal corrosion

Corneal corrosion typically shows up as a red, painful eye, vision worsens and discharge can be present. This is a limited corneal infection that is most frequently a consequence of bacterial infection associated with a prior corneal injury on the same spot. It frequently occurs in injuries of the corneal surface due to the chronic wearing of contact lenses. The infection can also be fungal, in which case it is most frequently caused by acanthamoeba. These types of infections are more frequently found in swimmers who wear contact lenses. If the disease is caused by a virus, it is most frequently caused by herpes.

Giant papillary conjunctivitis

This is another disease typically associated with the use of contact lenses. We can identify it by papillary changes on the eye conjunctiva under the upper eyelid. The cause of the onset of the disease is an immune reaction to the contact lens material or irritation caused by the constant wearing of contact lenses. Patients must stop wearing contact lenses and are usually also prescribed corticosteroid ointment or eye drops.

Hypersensitivity to the contact lens storage solution

This is an allergic reaction to the ingredients of the solution for contact lens storage. Patients usually have red and irritated eyes and have difficulty wearing their contact lenses. We frequently discover that affected patients have recently started using a different kind of contact lens solution. The problem is usually resolved simply by using a solution that has no preservatives or by exchanging the solution with one that has a different preservative.

Protein deposits in the contact lens

The accumulation of protein deposits in contact lenses can cause lenses to become difficult to wear and can irritate the eye. This problem is solved by changing the contact lenses. To avoid this problem, we recommend the use of disposable daily or monthly contact lenses.

Tight lens syndrome

This syndrome is usually caused by wearing contact lenses that have an unsuitable curvature. Due to changes in tear film on the surface of the cornea or due to changes in the curvature of the cornea that are associated with the wearing of contact lenses, this syndrome can also occur in patients that have correctly prescribed contact lenses. Typically, patients experience no problems during the first several days of wearing the lenses, but later, the lenses begin to bother the patient and irritate the eye. Eye redness can also occur. During the examination, we usually find that the contact lens is very tight and that it barely moves during the opening and closing of the eyes. The problem is solved with a prescription for contact lenses of a lesser curvature or smaller diameter. It is generally true that the contact lens must loosely fit the surface of the cornea, which enables correct penetration of tear film under the contact lens.

Changes to the Corneal Curvature

Corneal curvature changes can occur as a result of the chronic wearing of hard or soft contact lenses. With this condition, the corneal curvature changes and becomes similar to the curvature of the contact lens. Worsened vision and having to frequently change contact lenses for a higher dioptre is typical of this condition. The diagnosis is determined using corneal topography that shows altered corneal curvature. The only treatment is to stop wearing contact lenses. When the corneal curvature normalizes and stabilizes again, we can try to prescribe contact lenses again, but the problem frequently reappears.

Related articles

  • Keratoconus

    Keratoconus is a degenerative non-inflammatory disease of the cornea that causes the cornea to become thinner and more convex with disease progression. That first signs that should alert you to the possibility of keratoconus are worsening visual acuity and rapid changes in your dioptre. Keratoconus is successfully treated with a procedure called "corneal crosslinking", during which the cornea is soaked with special vitamin B2 drops and exposed to UV light – triggering a chemical reaction that increases its rigidity.

  • Dry eye

    The main reason for dry eye is a reduced production of tears by the lacrimal glands. An incorrect proportion of discharge in the tear film can also contribute to the feeling of dry eyes.

  • General corneal disease

    The cornea is like a kind of window in the anterior part of the eye which receives light and enables clear vision. There are different diseases that can affect the cornea and cause blurriness, visual impairment and in extreme cases, also blindness. These include keratoconus, keratitis, corneal ulcer and corneal scarring (macula).


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