Coping With an Allergy to Contact Lenses


You’re getting ready for work. You wash and rinse your hands, take your clean contact lens out of the soaking solution, put a few drops of wetting solution into the lens and slip it into your eye. But it feels like a piece of dirt got in your eye, so you squeeze your eye shut to get rid of the feeling and insert the second lens.

As you’re continuing to get ready for work, your eyes continue feeling as if you got a speck of dirt in them. You look at yourself in the mirror – your eyes are watery and bloodshot as if you just walked through a sandstorm in the middle of the desert. You remove the lenses and put your eyeglasses on. Your eyes gradually return to normal throughout the day, so you don’t know what to think.

Allergies to Contact Lens Cleaners and Solutions

If you react to your contacts every time you put them in, you may have an allergy to contact lenses. Or you may be allergic to the cleaning, sterilizing or soaking solutions you use to treat your lenses, according to Any Subject. Linda Polansky suggests trying different solutions to find a brand that does not cause allergic reactions.

Some of these products may cost more than solutions you buy at the supermarket or drugstore. A reaction to contact lens solutions can develop in someone with sensitive eyes, according to the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists. If this happens, your eye doctor may have you change to another contact lens care system.

Sensitive Eyes and Contact Lenses

Because contact lenses are a foreign object placed into the eyes to improve visual acuity, the eyes react to their presence by acting up. If your eyes are especially sensitive, they are less able to adjust to having contact lenses inserted, causing the resulting redness, irritation and tearing, according to the CLAO. It is possible for you to wear contact lenses even though you have sensitive eyes – but you’ll consistently experience discomfort. These feelings of discomfort include a scratchy and dry feeling in your eyes, lens awareness and a foreign body sensation. You won’t be able to wear your lenses for as long during the day, and you may have to alternate wearing contacts one day and glasses the next.

Your doctor may advise you to wear certain types of contact lenses. If you suffer from dry-eye syndrome, your doctor needs to steer you away from soft contact lenses with a high water content. If your issue is seborrheic blepharitis, avoid contact lenses that are easily coated with “dirty” tear deposits from your eyes. Finally, your doctor should ensure you don’t wear extended or prolonged-wear contact lenses.

Traditional Allergies

Environmental allergies (those allergies to dust, pollen and pet dander) make it harder for you to wear your contact lenses on days when your allergies are active. While you need to wear eyeglasses on those days, visit your doctor and find out if you can take any medications to alleviate your allergy symptoms. If you’re able to find any medication that helps relieve your allergy symptoms, you may find a way to address your allergy to contact lenses, advises Any Subject.


[1] Any Subject: Problems With Allergies Related to Your Contact Lenses?

[2] Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists: Contact Lenses and Sensitive Eyes