Are your eyes contact lens intolerant?

Posted on

15 December 2020

Author: Kate Green

contact lens intolerance

How common are contact lenses?


According to research we conducted at Optimax, 37.3% of people rely on glasses or contact lenses by the time they reach 18 years old. This number actually rises to a huge 86.6% of people aged 49 or over, highlighting just how big an issue poor vision is for the British population. Over 4 million people in the UK wear contact lenses regularly, but this figure is increasing all the time.


Now, over 63 million laser eye surgery procedures have been performed around the world since 1991. The huge scale of this really demonstrate s just how many people, over the years, have wanted to abandon their contact lenses and glasses, and instead have their vision corrected permanently.


What issues are there with contact lenses?


While contact lenses certainly have their benefits – particularly when it comes to aesthetic or convenience factors – there’s no denying that they bring a host of problems with them. Firstly, when worn for long periods of time, they can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your eyes. Not giving your eyes a break from these small pieces of plastic can also bring the risk of infection, especially when worn for longer than 12 hours a day. Your contact lens cleaning regime must also be extremely thorough in order to reduce the risk of infection, particularly when you’re relying on reusable lenses.


These basic hygiene elements are nothing compared to the risk of blindness caused by wearing your contact lenses in the shower. We have written previously about the dangers of exposing your contact lenses to tap water and the parasitic infection, acanthamoeba keratitis, which can threaten your eyesight.

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Alongside following essential contact lens hygiene practices in order to protect your eyesight, other drawbacks include the time and money it takes to continuously order new supplies over the course of your lifetime, and having ill-fitting lenses cause discomfort. If you can look past these inconveniences, another issue is a condition called Contact Lens Intolerance, which can develop at any time over the course of a contact lens user’s life.


What is Contact Lens Intolerance?


Simply put, Contact Lens Intolerance (CLI) is when your eyes start to reject contact lenses, causing a number of uncomfortable side effects. Symptoms of CLI include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Itchy, irritated red eyes
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Pain or stinging
  • Corneal abrasions or ulcers


Sometimes, taking a break from contact lenses and giving your eyes time to rest will help, and then you may be able to wear contact lenses pain-free at a later date. For some people, however, the discomfort comes back each time they wear contact lenses, particularly if their eyes can’t tolerate the material their lenses are made from. It’s at this point that people will usually seek other vision correction options, whether that comes in the form of glasses, laser eye surgery, or lens surgery.


How can you avoid contact lens intolerance?


As one of the most common – and also most irritating – symptoms of CLI is dry eyes, you can use eye drops (artificial tears) to lubricate your eyes a bit. This should also help with the redness and inflammation you might be experiencing, as well as easing the stinging sensation. Another way to ensure that your eyes are properly hydrated, and are therefore reacting well to contact lenses, is to make sure you are drinking enough water. Consuming lots of caffeine, salty foods, and alcohol all contributes to dehydration throughout your body, including your eyes. The foods we eat are especially important in promoting good eye health, with particular vitamins and antioxidants benefiting different aspects of our vision. Ensuring you eat a healthy diet could help your CLI symptoms.

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Another solution for CLI that you might wish to consider is vision correction treatment. Having laser eye surgery or lens surgery means that you would no long have to bother with contact lenses or glasses. Contact lenses are only safe if you’re cleaning them thoroughly and not sleeping with them – but over 50% of contact lens wearers have reported having a kip with them in! 82% admit to keeping their lenses in for longer than recommended, and up to 90% said that they haven’t always followed the care instructions that come with lenses.


With laser eye surgery, you remove the risk of acanthamoeba keratitis and have the chance to wake up with clear vision – no more sleeping with your contacts in overnight! 99% of Optimax patients actually achieve driving standard vision following treatment, so you can be sure you’re in safe hands with our surgeons and patient advisors. Many contact lens wearers just accept CLI symptoms as a part of everyday life, but it doesn’t have to be like that.


If you’d like to hear more about our vision correction options, including laser eye surgery, please give us a quick call on 0800 093 1110, or email Our team will be more than happy to advise you on the next steps and get you booked in for your free consultation to assess your suitability.

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