Contact lenses provide vision benefits, but they are not risk-free if wear and care instructions are not followed. If you are a contact lens wearer, your contact lenses should feel comfortable and allow you to see well. If they don’t, schedule an appointment for your eye doctor to re-check your eyes and lenses.
Rare infections of the cornea (the clear dome covering the colored part of the eye), called microbial keratitis, are among the most serious complications related to contact lens wear. Other complications that are commonly linked to contact lenses usually cause milder symptoms, or no symptoms at all. They may resolve through temporarily not wearing contact lenses, or with eye drops prescribed by an eye doctor. Some of these complications include:
- Allergies affecting the eyes
- Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis: bumps that appear underneath the eyelid
- Corneal abrasion: a scratch or scrape on the cornea
- Contact Lens-induced Acute Red Eye (CLARE): red, irritated eyes
- Corneal infiltrates: irritation of the cornea indicating inflammation and possible infection
- Dry eyes
- Neovascularization: new blood vessels growing onto the cornea, sometimes causing eye redness
If you have any of the symptoms below, remove your contact lenses. If the symptoms continue after a couple of hours, or if they get worse, call your eye doctor.
- Irritated, red eyes
- Worsening pain in or around the eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Sudden blurry vision
- Unusually watery eyes or discharge
- Germs and Infections
- FDA. Contact Lens Risksexternal icon
- Eye Infections From Contact Lenses – American Academy of Ophthalmology (aao.org)external icon
- Eye Diseases and Topics, A-Z – American Academy of Ophthalmologyexternal icon
- Healthy Vision and Contact Lenses – American Optometric Associationexternal icon
- Chalmers RL, Keay L, Long B, Bergenske P, Giles T, Bullimore M. Risk factors for contact lens complications in US clinical practices.external icon Optom Vis Sci. 2010;87(10):725-35.
- Keay L, Stapleton F, Schein O. Epidemiology of contact lens-related inflammation and microbial keratitis: a 20-year perspective.external icon Eye Contact Lens. 2007;33(6 Pt 2):346-53, discussion 362-3.
- Dart JK, Stapleton F, Minassian D. Contact lenses and other risk factors in microbial keratitis.external icon Lancet. 1991;338(8768):650-3.
- Efron N,Morgan PB, Hill EA, Raynor MK, Tullo AB. Incidence and morbidity of hospital-presenting corneal infiltrative events associated with contact lens wear.external icon Clin Exp Optom. 2005;88(4):232-9.
- Chalmers RL, Keay L, McNally J, Kern J. Multicenter case-control study of the role of lens materials and care products on the development of corneal infiltratesexternal icon. Optom Vis Sci. 2012;89(3):316-25.