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Top 8 Reasons You’re Getting Red Eyes From Contacts

By November 15, 2016Contacts Advice

When you rely on your contact lenses to see and look good, it’s annoying when you start getting red eyes from contacts. It’s important for all contact lens wearers to know what can lead to redness when wearing contact lenses. In this article, I will discuss the top 8 reasons for red eyes from contact lenses.

Contacts Advice Medical Disclaimer

Dry Eyes

Eyes need to be well lubricated by a properly function thin layer of tears in order for your eyes to remain comfortable and white. When your tears are no longer able to protect and lubricate the surface of your eyes, you develop irritation which turns your eyes red.

If you are prone to dry eyes when you’re not wearing contact lenses, then you’re only going to make things worse when you put in your contact lenses. Regardless of what the contact lens manufacturers may say about how ‘hydrating’ or ‘moisturizing’ their contact lenses are, in the end, contact lenses are still foreign objects that you’re putting on your eyeballs. And any foreign object will cause a certain amount of disruption to the proper functioning of your protective tear film.

Here is a video that explains dry eye in great detail. It’s a little boring, but if you have dry eyes, it may be of interest to you.

Solution: Ask your eye doctor to help you identify the cause of your dry eyes. Most causes of dry eyes such as meibonian gland dyfunction and blepharitis are treatable. Once you have your dry eyes under control, then try using contact lenses again. It would benefit you to use contact lenses designed for people who are prone to dry eyes. Check out the best contact lenses for dry eyes here.

Contact Lens Overwear

This usually happens to people who rely solely on their contact lenses to correct their vision, and don’t own a pair of prescription glasses. Not owning glasses forces you to wear contact lenses every waking minute of the day, 7 days a week, which is more than eyes can handle.

When people get into this habit at a young age, they may not think it is a problem at first. Young eyes are generally healthier and more resilient, so they can handle a rather extreme amount of contact lens wear. But after a few years of doing this, the eyes become increasingly intolerant to contact lenses, sometimes to the point of no longer being able to handle them for more than a few hours at a time.

Solution: Ask your eye doctor how many hours of contact lens wear he/she would recommend for you. Depending on your age and eye health, your eye doctor will give you an appropriate wearing schedule.

Extending Your Contact Lenses

Every single contact lens brand has a time limit on how long you can it use it before it has to be disposed of. Depending on what brand you’re using, your contacts may either be good for 1 month, 2 weeks, or 1 day.

If contact lenses are worn beyond the time that they’re supposed to be thrown out, they will cause increasingly more irritation to the eyes. This happens because as the contact lenses get older, they break down more and more, becoming rougher and drier.

Solution: Make sure you know when you’re supposed to change your contact lenses and replace them on time.

Sleeping With Your Contact Lenseswoman sleeping with contact lenses

Sleeping with your contact lenses is something that’s almost guaranteed to make your eyes red. Very few contact lenses brands are intended for you to sleep with. And even if you do have one of these brands, only a small percentage of people will be able to wear these overnight without getting any redness or discomfort.

The bottom line is that although contact lens manufacturers have tried to make contact lenses that people can wear day and night, it simply has not worked out. You are much better off getting used to putting your contact lenses on in the morning and removing them at night.

Sleeping overnight with your contact lenses is not the only culprit of eye redness. Even small naps with your contact lenses can cause your eyes to be very dry and turn red.

Solution: Never sleep with your contact lenses overnight and be mindful of not falling asleep with your contact lenses throughout the day.

Deposits On Your Contact Lenses

For some monthly contact lens wearers, redness while wearing contact lenses is something that gets progressively worse throughout the month. This could be due to something called ‘deposits’ building up on your contact lenses as the month progresses.

If you are someone who produces deposits, there’s nothing you can do about that. It’s just the way your eyes are. But fortunately, there are ways of dealing with it.

Here is a quick video showing a close-up view of a man wearing contact lenses covered with deposits.

Solution: Talk with your optometrist to see if switching to a different contact lens cleaning solution might help clean the deposits off and keep your lenses clean throughout the month. Hydrogen peroxide based solutions are helpful with this problem.

If changing contact lens solution doesn’t work, it may be time for you to change brands. Using contacts lenses that are replaced more frequently, such as bi-weekly or daily contact lenses can eliminate the problem by not allowing time for the deposits to build up and start causing redness. Ask your eye doctor to suggest some different brands.

Old Contact Lens Brand

Sometimes the reason why our eyes get red with contact lenses is that they don’t let enough oxygen through to our eyes. Oxygen is essential to the proper functioning of our cornea, but contact lenses completely cover our corneas, creating a barrier to oxygen transmission.

Solution: The solution is simple. You merely have to upgrade to contact lenses that allow more oxygen through to your eyes. Generally speaking, when it comes to oxygen transmission, newer the contact lens brands are more breathable than older ones. This doesn’t hold true for every single contact lens brand, but brands released within the past 5 years, are generally more breathable than the brands released in the previous 5 years, and so on. Ask your eye doctor to recommend the most appropriate brand for you.

Improper Contact Lens Solution

Not every brand of contact lens solution is compatible with every brand of contact lenses. Certain combinations will cause eye redness and irritation. The interactions between brands of contact lenses and cleaning solutions are complex.

This is a chart which shows some incompatible combinations, but it is not an exhaustive list.

contact lens and solution interaction chart

Solution: Use only the brand of contact lens cleaning solution recommended by your eye doctor.

Contact Lens Complications

When contact lenses start to cause health problems in your eyes, the first sign is often redness and discomfort with contact lenses.

The possible complications from contact lenses are many, some of which can be emergencies and if not properly treated, can lead to a range of vision loss.

Contact lens complications can come in the form of giant papillary conjunctivitis, corneal infiltrates, viral and bacterial infections, and many many more.

Solution: If you notice a pattern of redness whenever you wear your contact lenses, it is important to stop wearing your contacts and see your optometrist as soon as possible to determine what the cause of the redness is.

I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any tips of your own or have any experience with redness with contact lenses and how the problem was resolved, please feel free to share.


Author Julie

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • It’s interesting that there could actually be deposits on a contact lens that are causing your eyes to hurt. It makes sense that it could be good to keep them properly cleaned and maintained to ensure this doesn’t happen. I’ll have to talk to my son about it when he gets his contacts just to ensure he’s always comfortable.

    • Julie says:

      If you suspect deposits, it may be difficult to see them with just the naked eye. It’s best to bring him to his eye doctor so that he/she can confirm whether or not deposits are an issue.

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