Contact Lens Related Infections
Top Seven Reasons Why Contacts May be Causing Red Eyes
1. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis
Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) is a condition found commonly in contact lens wearers. GPC is a type of inflammation caused by having a foreign body (contact lens) in the eye. Contact lenses can sometimes irritate the surface of the conjunctiva. GPC may make your eyes red and itchy, and cause your contact lenses to move around on your eyes.
C.L.A.R.E. stands for “contact lens-induced red eye.” Caused by bacteria, C.L.A.R.E. is a reaction to the toxins that normal bacteria create in your eyes. Toxins that would normally be fl ushed out of your eye by blinking can bind to a contact lens. These toxins build up and can create a very unhappy red eye. C.L.A.R.E. is found more commonly in patients who take long naps or sleep in their contact lenses.
3. CONTACT LENS SOLUTION USE
If your eyes are red, you may have an allergy to the disinfecting contact lens solution you are using. An allergy can develop at any time, even if you have used a particular brand of solution for several years. Some contact lens re-wetting or lubricating eye drops may contain preservatives that produce an allergic reaction.
4. EYE ALLERGIES
People who have allergies sometimes have a diffi cult time wearing contact lenses. While the constant itching, eye rubbing and tearing caused by allergies can make you miserable on their own, having a contact lens in your eye can exacerbate your eye allergies even more. Contacts may act like a vessel, collecting pollen and allergic particles that fl oat in the air around you. These antigens can adhere to your lenses, worsening your allergies.
5. CORNEAL ULCER
Corneal ulcers are always taken seriously in the eye care fi eld. The fi rst sign of a developing corneal ulcer is often eye redness. You may also feel like there is a foreign body in your eye, and/or have increased light sensitivity, tearing and pain. If you have these symptoms, seek care immediately. Corneal ulcers have the potential to cause corneal scarring and permanently reduced vision, and sometimes blindness.
6. POORLY FIT OR DEFECTIVE LENSES
Lenses that are too tight can restrict normal tear fl ow underneath your lenses and reduce the amount of oxygen to your corneas. Occasionally, a compression ring around the cornea is visible in the examination room. Your eyes may seem fi ne in the morning, but as the day goes on, your eyes may become red and begin to ache.
A lens that is too loose may cause redness as well. A loose lens moves with every blink, creating redness and a foreign body sensation. It doesn’t take much of a scratch to create small holes in your cornea, giving bacteria an easy route to your eye to cause infection. You should never wear a defective or torn lens, as the defective part of the lens may constantly scratch your eye.
7. DRY EYE SYNDROME
Even if you have absolutely no symptoms of dry eye syndrome, you may have very dry eyes when wearing contact lenses. To be a successful contact lens wearer, you must have a fairly healthy tear layer. A contact lens can soak up every tear you have, not allowing for lubrication of your eye or the lens. Dry eye symptoms often increase as the day goes on. Your eyes may become red, and they might feel scratchy. If your eyes are signifi cantly dry, you may not be able to wear your lenses for more than a couple of hours at a time.
Don’t sleep in your contacts unless they were approved for over night use. Check with your eye care provider to determine if your lens has over night FDA approval.
What can cause contact lenses-related eye infections?
While contact lenses are safely worn by many, there is a risk of developing eye infections. Factors that contribute to an infection can include:
- Use of extended-wear lenses
- Reduced tear exchange under the lens
- Environmental factors
- Poor hygiene
- White spot on the cornea
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
How can I avoid getting an eye infection due to contact lenses?
The best way to avoid eye infections due to wearing contact lenses is to follow proper lens care guidelines as recommended by your optometrist. Single usage one day throw away lenses are affordable, extremely safe, easy to manage and are available in most prescriptions. Best of all you don’t have to carry around contact lens solutions which are costly and cumbersome.
Below are some of the most common eye infections associated with wearing contact lenses.
What are corneal ulcers?
A corneal ulcer is an erosion or exposed sore on the surface of the cornea. Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by germs. Other causes of corneal ulcers include viruses, injury and inadequate eyelid closure. Sometimes when wearing a contact lens we are less sensitive to these conditions as they begin, like having a band aid on a cut, so it is important to remove your lenses as instructed. Being aware of how your eyes look and feel. when your lens are on is a important aspect of proper contact lens care.
What are the symptoms of corneal ulcers?
The symptoms of corneal ulcers include:
How are corneal ulcers diagnosed and treated?
Early diagnosis is important in treating corneal ulcers. Your optometrist will ask you questions to determine what caused the ulcer. Your eyes will then be examined, sometimes a special dye may be placed in your eye to aid in the diagnosis don’t worry it doesn’t hurt at all. Treatment usually involves eye drops and is very effective when treatment is started early.
What is Contact Lens Induced Acute Red Eye (CLARE)?
CLARE is an inflammatory reaction of the cornea and conjunctiva (a thin and transparent membrane that covers the sclera, the white part of the eye). This infection is mostly caused by sleeping with contact lenses and is characterized by awaking with red eyes.
What is the treatment for CLARE?
In most cases, no treatment is required. It is recommended that patients discontinue lens wear, which usually remedies the condition. However, if redness or irritation persists after 24 hours, you should see your optometrist. If you experience pain, sensitivity to light or decrease in vision, you should see your optometrist immediately.
What is Contact Lens Papillary Conjunctivitis also known as Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC)?
GPC is an inflammatory reaction of the upper eye lid and is very common among those that over wear their contact lenses. One day lenses are a excellent choice for those who have experienced this.
What are the symptoms of GPC?
The symptoms of GPC include small, red bumps on the inflamed tissue on the underside of the upper eyelids. There is usually itchiness, discharge, increased lens awareness and decreased lens tolerance.
What is the treatment for GPC?
Your optometrist may prescribe eye drops to control the inflammation. Once under control usually a different type of lenses will be prescribed.