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Can Wearing Contacts Every Day Damage Your Eyes?

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A man looking into a mirror while he uses his right hand to put a contact lens in his left eye.

Wearing contact every day can damage your eyes with incorrect use or improper handling. But contact lenses are typically considered safe and effective when worn as directed by your optometrist and according to manufacturer recommendations. Of course, there are still potential complications, which we’ll cover in detail below, that could arise from contact lens wear, but these risks are minimal when using your contacts as directed.

One of the primary ways you can avoid harming your eyes or vision with contacts is to begin with a proper contact lens exam and fitting from your eye doctor. Not only will your eye doctor make sure you’re a candidate for contact lenses, but they can also review proper care and handling with you to determine whether your lifestyle is compatible with contact lens wear.

Possible Complications from Contact Lens Use

While contact lenses are typically considered a safe and effective form of vision correction, there are a few potential complications that could arise from improper use.

Eye Infections

A serious complication that can result from contact lens wear is an eye infection. These infections can occur when bacteria or other microorganisms build up on the lens or inside the eye. Symptoms may include redness, pain, discharge, and vision problems.

Hand washing is an important preventive measure for avoiding eye infections. Wash your hands before handling your lenses, and follow proper cleaning and disinfection procedures for your lenses and lens case. 

Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are open sores on the surface of the eye that can result from bacterial or fungal infections. Contact lens wear is a common risk factor for corneal ulcers, as lenses can promote the growth of harmful microorganisms in the eye. Symptoms may include eye pain, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. 

When contact lenses are linked to corneal ulcers, it’s often due to an infection from sleeping in lenses or using tap water to clean them.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is a common condition that affects many contact lens wearers. This occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears to keep the eye surface moist and comfortable or the tears produced are poor quality. Symptoms may include redness, burning, and a gritty feeling in the eyes.

Chronic dry eye may be enough to prevent an individual from wearing contacts. But your eye doctor may just recommend a high-quality lubricating eye drop to prevent dry eye in some cases. There are also specialty lens options that can make contact lens wear more comfortable for people with dry eyes.

Allergic Reactions

Some people may experience allergic reactions to contact lenses or their cleaning solutions. Symptoms may include itching, redness, and swelling of the eyes. 

Even if you’re not allergic to the lenses themselves, contact lenses can attract and trap allergens from the air, causing irritation for people with eye allergies. You should contact your eye doctor if you’re experiencing allergy symptoms. They can examine your eyes to determine whether you’re reacting to the lenses, your solution, or something else.

Contact Lens Discomfort

Many contact lens wearers experience discomfort or irritation from wearing their lenses. This may include a feeling of dryness, itchiness, or general discomfort in the eyes. Your eye doctor can help you choose lenses that fit well and are made from high-quality materials to minimize the risk of experiencing discomfort.

Things to Consider to Prevent Eye Damage & Discomfort

There are a few things you should consider when it comes to preventing eye damage or discomfort from daily contact lens use.

Daily Disposable vs. Reusable Contacts

It’s essential to understand the difference between daily disposable and reusable contact lenses. Daily disposable lenses are designed to be worn for a single day and thrown out after the first use, while reusable lenses can be worn repeatedly for a longer period, typically a few days to a month.

Multiple uses of a daily disposable or wearing an extended-wear lens for longer than the recommended time could lead to several issues, such as corneal ulcers, infections, and neovascularization, which is the growth of new blood vessels in the eye.

Proper Cleaning

Improper cleaning of your contacts can lead to problems. Contact lenses can be a breeding ground for bacteria, and not cleaning them daily can cause an eye infection. It’s essential to follow the cleaning and sterilizing guidelines to prevent further damage to your eyes. Using cleaning solutions that aren’t suitable for your particular lenses can cause irritation and allergic reactions.

Keep Your Eyes Hydrated

Contact lenses can cause eye dryness and irritation. Lenses that aren’t hydrated can dehydrate the cornea, leading to dry, irritated eyes. Contact lenses rubbing against the eye without adequate lubrication can cause damage, leading to the development of corneal abrasions and ulcers.

Give Your Eyes a Breather

Wearing contacts every day without removing them can damage your eyes by preventing oxygen and nutrients from reaching the cornea. This can lead to corneal edema, swelling of the cornea caused by fluid accumulation, or hypoxia caused by the reduced oxygen supply in the cornea. This damage can be mitigated by following the recommended care and wear schedule of the lenses.

A woman in an optical clinic shaking hands with her optometrist.

Book a Contact Lens Exam

Contact lenses can be fantastic in terms of convenience and improving vision quality. But if they don’t fit properly, you’re not wearing the right lens for your needs, or you’re not sure how to properly handle them, then complications could arise.

Whether you’re already wearing contacts and have been experiencing irritation, or you want to make the leap into frameless vision correction, contact our team at Total Vision La Mesa today. We’re happy to book you an appointment to help you see more clearly and comfortably.

Written by Total Vision

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