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Why Does My Eye Hurt When I Wear Contact Lenses?

November 15 2022
contact lenses and glasses

Contact lenses are great for people with blurry vision who prefer not to wear eyeglasses. But if you wear contact lenses for long periods at a time, you may notice that your eyes become sore and irritated. This can happen for a number of reasons, including how you care for your contacts and the type of lens material you use. 

Read on as a Lake Stevens, WA optometrist discusses some common causes of sore eyes when wearing contact lenses.

Factors That Can Cause Eye Pain

You’re not using the right contact lens solution

Some solutions are designed to be used only once and then disposed of, while others can be reused over and over again. If you’re not using the correct solution for your contacts, it could cause irritation in your eyes and make them water more than usual.

You need a better-fitting lens

If your eyes are irritated after wearing contacts for only a short time, consider switching brands or types of lenses (for instance, monthly disposables or even daily disposables). A different type of contact might help alleviate the irritation and reduce symptoms like a scratchy sensation or burning feeling in one’s eye(s).

Your contact lenses are dirty or damaged

If you are using the correct solution, it’s possible that your contacts have been damaged by other factors. Make sure you are using proper cleaning solutions for your contact lenses and that they are not expired.

You’re experiencing dry eye

Dry eye is a condition that causes the eyes to be more sensitive to foreign particles, irritants, and allergens.

It’s common for people to experience discomfort at some point while wearing contacts, but if your eye pain persists after wearing the lenses for a few days, you may have dry eye. 

Things to Consider

Most of the time, if you wear contact lenses daily and follow the recommended cleaning and replacement schedule, keeping your contacts clean and replacing them on a regular basis means no painful eyes. However, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor for an exam. 

With ongoing advancements in optical technology, there’s now a range of specialty contact lens options from which to choose, including:

  • Scleral contact lenses, which work especially well for dry eyes sufferers 
  • Toric lenses, which are specially designed for astigmatism
  • Ortho-K lenses, also known as night contact lenses, temporarily correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism and enable wearers to go without corrective eyewear during the day

Our Advice on Why Does Your Eye Hurt When You Wear Contact Lenses in 2024

Why can wearing contact lenses cause sore and irritated eyes?

Wearing contact lenses can cause sore and irritated eyes due to several factors. Incorrect lens fit, leading to constant rubbing against the cornea, is a primary cause. Using the wrong contact lens solution can also trigger allergic reactions or irritations. Overwearing lenses beyond their intended duration can also lead to protein buildup, reducing oxygen flow to the cornea and resulting in discomfort. Moreover, poor hygiene practices and environmental irritants can contaminate lenses, exacerbating eye irritation. Lastly, contact lens use can aggravate underlying conditions like dry eye syndrome, further causing discomfort.

What role does lens cleanliness play in preventing eye discomfort?

Lens cleanliness is crucial in preventing eye discomfort for contact lens wearers. Proper cleaning removes bacteria, viruses, and protein deposits that accumulate on lenses during use. If not removed, these contaminants can cause infections, irritation, and allergic reactions. Regular and thorough cleaning with the appropriate solutions prevents the buildup of these irritants, ensuring the lens surface remains smooth and precise, thereby reducing the risk of corneal scratches or infections. Maintaining lens hygiene promotes comfort, preserves eye health, and extends the usability of the lenses.

How can dry eye syndrome affect contact lens wearers?

Dry eye syndrome can significantly impact contact lens wearers by reducing tear film quality and quantity, increasing friction between the lens and the ocular surface. This condition exacerbates discomfort, irritation, and a gritty sensation, challenging lens wear. Insufficient lubrication can cause the lenses to dry out and stick to the eye, complicating insertion and removal and increasing the risk of corneal abrasions. Managing dry eye through specialized drops or switching to lenses designed for dry eyes can help alleviate these issues and improve overall comfort.

What are scleral contact lenses, and why are they beneficial for dry-eyed individuals?

Scleral contact lenses are large-diameter lenses that vault over the entire corneal surface and rest on the white part of the eye, the sclera. Their design creates a tear-filled vault over the cornea, significantly enhancing comfort for individuals with dry eyes by maintaining a hydrating environment and reducing corneal exposure to air. This feature is particularly beneficial for those suffering from dry eye syndrome, as it minimizes irritation and provides a protective barrier against environmental factors that can exacerbate dryness, making them an excellent option for enhancing visual comfort and understanding.

What are Ortho-K lenses, and how do they correct vision temporarily?

Ortho-K lenses, or Orthokeratology lenses, are specially designed rigid gas-permeable contact lenses worn overnight to temporarily reshape the cornea, correcting refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. By gently flattening the cornea as you sleep, they modify how light rays enter the eye, improving vision clarity during the day without needing glasses or contact lenses. This non-surgical approach offers a reversible alternative to permanent vision correction methods, making it an attractive option for those seeking freedom from daytime eyewear.

If you have more questions or wish to schedule a consultation, please feel free to call your local Lake Stevens, WA optometrist anytime!

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Grandview Optometry


16616 Twin Lakes Ave
Marysville, WA 98271
(Inside Marysville/Smokey Point Costco)


Monday-Friday: 10:00am-6:30pm
Saturday:  9:30am-5:00pm
Sunday: Closed

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