Contact lens problems are rare but do occur. Some of the common
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
The reasons for tight lens syndrome are:
- Your eyes don’t produce enough tears to keep the
- 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
- 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
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.
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,
and hereditary diseases.
The symptoms of cornea problems are:
- Blurred vision
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Sensation of foreign object in
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.