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Contact Lenses (cont.)

What Are Symptoms and Signs of Contact Lens Problems?

It is not unusual to have some general irritation, even some redness, upon beginning contact lens wear. However, persistent redness, light sensitivity, pain, and blurred vision are the main signs and symptoms of potential eye problems. Depending on the cause, symptoms vary in intensity. In more serious infections, the pupil in the infected (red) eye may be smaller than the other pupil.

  • With a torn or broken lens or if there is something in the eye, there is usually a slight feeling of general irritation as if something is in the eye. There may be some associated redness.
  • With a poor-fitting lens or a lens that is old, there may be a slight irritation and redness associated with some blurring of vision.
  • Makeup on the surface of the eye or a reaction to solutions can vary from slight to marked redness of the eye with slight to marked pain.
  • Corneal abrasions (scratches) are usually quite painful, with or without the lens in the eye, and are associated with light sensitivity and redness. Vision may or may not be blurry.
  • Infections are a major concern because they may cause severe eye damage or blindness.
    • Simple pinkeye (a mild infection) is usually associated with redness, clear or mucous discharge, and matting of the eyelids. Vision is usually clear. When this happens, remove the contact lens in hopes of avoiding spread of the infection to the eye. Contact your fitter as to how to proceed.
    • Subconjunctival hemorrhages (bleeding on the surface of the white part of the eye) may look bad, but they do not cause any damage and disappear over one to two weeks without any treatment.
    • Infections of the cornea are of more concern. These infections cause marked redness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and a variable degree of pain. Occasionally, it is possible for the lens wearer to see the infection, which may appear as a white spot on the surface of the eye. These infections require immediate evaluation and care. Infections may be secondary to contaminated solutions, poor hygiene, contaminated tap water, or dirty contact-lens cases.
    • When a lens slips off the surface of the eye, vision immediately becomes blurry, which may or may not be associated with a sensation of something under the upper eyelid. If you can't move the lens to the correct position on the eye, you might have to seek the advice of your fitter. Do not panic since this rarely causes any damage.
    • Severe, blinding infections may occur when contact lenses are worn while swimming.
Last Reviewed 11/17/2017

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