problems that can occur as a consequence of contact lens wear


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Problems from Contact Lenses

Advances in contact lenses have greatly reduced the occurrence of problems for contact lens wearers. However, problems do still exist. As early treatment is vital to prevent blindness, it is beneficial to know the symptoms, so early treatment can be sought. Some of the more a common problems are; Tight lens syndrome, Allergies, Corneal problems, and Corneal Ulcers.

TIGHT LENS SYNDROME

As the name implies, tight lens syndrome occurs when the contact lens becomes too tight for the eye. This can be due simply to poor fit, but that is rare. More likely, the lens has dried up and begun to shrink. This squeezes the front of the eyes like a suction cup.

There are many reasons a contact lens may dry up. Windy conditions or hot dry weather cause moisture to evaporate from the eyes. The eyes may not produce enough tears. Not replacing lenses frequently enough will also dry out lenses.

Symptoms of tight lens syndrome include discomfort, redness, and poor vision even with the lenses on. Treatment includes using a wetting solution, using new lenses, or changing the type of lens the patient uses.

ALLERGIES

This can be a problem with existing allergies or newly developed allergies. In the case of existing allergies where eye irritation is a common problem, i.e. pollen allergies, the irritation may worsen. This would occur if pollen or any allergen became stuck to the lens and was not properly washed off. Additionally, contact lens wearers may develop allergies or sensitivities to contact lens materials or solutions. Allergies may result in bumps under the eyelid called giant papillary conjunctivitis.

Symptoms of allergies include lens discomfort, tearing, redness, itching, swelling, mucous discharge, and a sensation that there is something in the eyes. Treatment initially is a cool compress and artificial tears. Reducing contact lens wear time and using better cleaning techniques will also help. Medications to reduce sensitivity may be used. If the allergy is to the contact lens material, a different lens may be tried.

CORNEAL PROBLEMS

Basic corneal problems are varied. They can be hereditary problems, corneal degeneration, or infections. They can be simply scratching, or swelling, caused by the contact lens, resulting in abnormal growth of blood vessels.

Symptoms of corneal problems include, pain, tearing, redness, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and the feeling that something is in the eye. Early treatment is important as the cornea has the ability to heal quickly. Treatment includes; eye drops/ointments, eye patching, soft contact lens bandages, and in very serious cases corneal transplant.

CORNEAL ULCERS

This occurs when the corneal surface is damaged. The ulcers can be sterile or infectious. The cause of corneal ulcers is generally lack of proper lens care combined with sleeping with the lenses in. Corneal ulcers are more common with soft contact lenses.

Sterile ulcers occur on the edge of the cornea. These cause little pain and may or may not involve a break in the epithelium (the superficial layer of the cornea). Infectious ulcers are more serious and can be very painful.

An infectious ulcer breaks the epithelium. This can also lead to other infections, as the break in epithelium will allow other bacteria to enter. The interior of the eye may also be effected in serious cases. Pseudomonas, an aggressive bacterium, may severely damage the eye or cause blindness in 24-48 hours.

Symptoms of corneal ulcers include tearing, redness, pain, discharge, light sensitivity, and white spots on the cornea. Treatments of sterile ulcers include anti-inflammatory drops, and antibiotics. Infectious ulcers require aggressive treatment. Anti-bacterial eye drops may be used every 15 minutes. In-patient treatment may be necessary. Steroids are avoided.

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