What Are the Common Causes of an Allergic Reaction to Contact Lenses?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Dander and pollen can build up on contact lenses.
Dander and pollen can build up on contact lenses.

Some people who wear contacts find their eyes become red, itchy and watery during use, and this may indicate an allergic reaction to contact lenses. One of the most common reasons for this issue is that common irritants, including pollen and dander, can build up under a lens, which means the allergens rub against the eye constantly. Some people also are allergic to the contact lens solution or the material of the lens itself. In addition, the buildup of protein on contacts can cause giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC), in which bumps appear on the conjunctiva because the surface is so irritated, leading to allergy-like symptoms.

Some people are allergic to the material of a contact lens.
Some people are allergic to the material of a contact lens.

Contact lenses tend to collect various irritants each day they are used, especially when the people wearing them do not properly wash their hands before putting them in their eyes. For example, many people have allergic reactions to pet dander and pollen, and mold and dust also tend to cause bad reactions. Those who notice an allergic reaction to contact lenses despite keeping their hands clean and properly washing their lenses each day may find it beneficial to wear daily disposables. These are usually meant to last one day, after which they should be thrown away so fresh lenses free of the buildup of irritants can be used the next day.

Signs of an allergic reaction may include runny nose.
Signs of an allergic reaction may include runny nose.

It is possible to develop an allergic reaction to contact lenses stemming from certain products used during wear. For example, some people's eyes are bothered by materials in the lens itself. If this is the suspected issue, one should likely look for a different type of lens or stop wearing contacts. Similarly, some people are allergic to the contact lens solution that they use to clean and store their lenses. Switching to contact solution for sensitive eyes may help to alleviate this problem.

Contact lenses may collect irritants when the people wearing them do not properly wash their hands before putting them in their eyes.
Contact lenses may collect irritants when the people wearing them do not properly wash their hands before putting them in their eyes.

One major cause of an allergic reaction to contact lenses is the gradual buildup of protein on the lenses, which is called giant papillary conjunctivitis. This often allows the protein to irritate the eyes enough to cause bumps on the conjunctiva, a mucous membrane that covers the white part of the eye. Some of the most common signs of an allergic reaction to contact lenses resulting from this include redness, itchiness and discharge from the eyes. People who do not wash their lenses thoroughly, sleep in them, or wear their contacts longer than recommended tend to be most at-risk for GPC, because all those actions allow the protein to build up.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

Heavanet

Good point Talentryto, I hadn't thought of poor fitting lenses causing issues. Regardless of what you think the possible cause of your issues with your contact lenses might be, it is important to get back to your optometrist as soon as possible. He or she will be able to fit you with contacts that feel good, fit properly, and do not cause allergic reaction problems.

Talentryto

As a contact lense wearer, I know that you may have a bad reaction to contact lenses that do not fit properly. Though you may not notice a problem at first, or you may think that any issues you are having are due to getting use to new contacts, symptoms of red, irritated eyes could be because the contacts are not the right fit. When this happens, they are either too tight or too loose, resulting in irritation that will become worse over time.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Dander and pollen can build up on contact lenses.
      By: ruigsantos
      Dander and pollen can build up on contact lenses.
    • Some people are allergic to the material of a contact lens.
      By: revers_jr
      Some people are allergic to the material of a contact lens.
    • Signs of an allergic reaction may include runny nose.
      By: www.doglikehorse.com
      Signs of an allergic reaction may include runny nose.
    • Contact lenses may collect irritants when the people wearing them do not properly wash their hands before putting them in their eyes.
      By: wollertz
      Contact lenses may collect irritants when the people wearing them do not properly wash their hands before putting them in their eyes.
    • Red, itchy eyes can be caused by an irritant build up underneath contact lenses.
      By: Rob hyrons
      Red, itchy eyes can be caused by an irritant build up underneath contact lenses.
    • Environmental allergens on hands or contacts can get in the eyes, making them itch and water.
      By: GVictoria
      Environmental allergens on hands or contacts can get in the eyes, making them itch and water.
    • People with pet dander allergies may want to consider daily disposable contacts.
      By: Ilike
      People with pet dander allergies may want to consider daily disposable contacts.