Friday, 10 June 2011

Problems With Contact Lenses

Problems With Contact Lenses

Contact lens problems are rare but do occur. Some of the common problems are:

Corneal ulcers

An ulcer occurs when the cornea surface is damaged and can occur with any kind of contact lens. Corneal ulcers can be sterile or infectious. Correct identification of the ulcer type is important to decide the course of treatment.

The infectious, or bacterial, ulcer is more serious and can be very painful. The ulcer here breaks the epithelium, which is the superficial layer of the cornea. In serious cases the ulcer may also affect the interior of the eye. Aggressive bacteria like pseudomonas can cause blindness or damage the eye severely, within 24 to 48 hours, if the ulcer is left untreated. Bacterial ulceration can cause other infections also since the break in the epithelium is a window of opportunity for other organisms to enter and fester in the eye.

The sterile ulcer occurs on the edge of the cornea and causes little pain. It may or may not cause a break in the epithelium.

The reasons for corneal ulcers are usually lack of proper lens care combined with sleeping with contacts. Corneal ulcer occurs more with soft contacts where their higher water content allows organisms to be absorbed more easily if they are not properly cleaned. Pseudomonas ulceration in particular is more common among soft contact wearers

The symptoms of corneal ulcers are:

Red eye
Severe pain in some cases
White spot on the cornea whose visibility with the naked eye depends on the severity of the ulcer
Light sensitivity

Treatment depends on whether the ulcer is bacterial or sterile. Bacterial treatments need aggressive medication, like antibacterial eye drops, every 15 minutes. Steroid medications are avoided in bacterial ulcers. Severe cases of ulcer may require hospitalization.

Sterile ulcers can be treated by steroid drops, anti-inflammatory drops and antibiotics.

Tight lens syndrome

This is a disorder where the soft lens dries up and shrinks a little, squeezing the front of your eyes like a suction cup. Simply put, the lens becomes too tight for your eye.

The reasons for tight lens syndrome are:

Your eyes don’t produce enough tears to keep the lens saturated.
Hot, dry and windy conditions may cause moisture to evaporate from your lenses.
You may be wearing old lenses, which are now dry.
Your lenses may have become less absorbent during storage.
The lenses could be too tight for your eyes.

The symptoms of tight lens syndrome are:

Poor vision with lenses

Treatment is done by using, either a wetting solution to moisten the lens or wearing looser lens or a different lens which is less dependent on moisture to retain its shape.


Allergies are a common problem among contact lens wearers. Contact lens worsens the allergy you have to some substances like pollen, when they stick to your contacts. Even those without any allergy sometimes develop sensitiveness towards lens deposits or preservatives in contact lens solutions. Allergies may cause bumps, called giant papillary conjunctivitis, underneath the eyelids.

Symptoms of allergies are:

Swelling of the eyes
Mucous discharge
Lens discomfort
Sensation of foreign object in the eye

Allergies can be treated by cool compressors and artificial tears. There are medications to limit the sensitivity to any allergen. Different lens solution, different contacts or prescription eye drops often help in allergy related problems. Reducing lens wear time and better cleaning may also help.

Cornea problems

Corneal problems are caused by a variety of injuries and diseases. They could be scratching or swelling of the cornea by contact lenses causing growth of abnormal blood vessels on the cornea. They could also be due to infections, degeneration and hereditary diseases.

The symptoms of cornea problems are:

Blurred vision
Extreme sensitivity to light
Sensation of foreign object in the eye

Early treatment can sometimes resolve cornea problems. Treatments include eye drops, ointments, soft contact lenses, eye patching and in serious cases corneal transplant. Fortunately the cornea has the ability to heal quickly after most injuries and diseases.

Most contact lens problems can be successfully resolved if they are treated early. So it will be to your advantage to be familiar with the symptoms in order to recognize them at the time of their onset. Stop wearing your lenses when you notice any symptom, and see your eye doctor immediately. Delay may lead to more problems.

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