It feels better with my contacts on!
It happens all the time, a patient will call and they have red, watery, irritated eyes and they need to be seen ASAP. The interesting thing is that when they come in they are still wearing their contact lenses. When I ask them why, they invariably tell me that it hurts more when they take their lenses out.
So many nerves in the cornea!
Now before I explain why this is happening, let’s do a little anatomy review. I promise it will be short and not too technical! The human cornea is the windshield of the eye and it is what the contact lens rests on. It is also one of the most highly innervated tissues in the body. This simply means it has 300-600 more nerve endings than other areas of skin, so it is highly sensitive. This is why a piece of dust under your contact lens feels like a dagger stabbing you in the eye.
Eyelid issue or Cornea issue?
That being said, if it hurts more when you take out your contact lens you either have an issue with the upper eyelid or you have some kind of scratch or infection of the cornea itself. With the upper eyelid, the most common thing I see is debris stuck on the underside or dust and debris getting in your eye and causing the under eyelid to be swollen and look like a cobblestone road. This makes each blink incredibly painful. In regards to the cornea, a scratch or an infection (usually from over wearing them) is the most common cause. In both instances your contact lens acts as a barrier to any irritation of the corneal nerves.
Get treatment ASAP!!
If you are experiencing either of these situations you need to be seen by your eye care provider. The sooner you can seek treatment the quicker you will find relief. In the case of infections, it can be sight threatening so now is always better than later! Depending on the root cause you will get an antibiotic or possibly a steroid eye drop. In the interim, until you can get into the office, lubricate like crazy with Systane Complete preservative free eye drops. Do NOT use anything that claims it will get the red out.
We are a call away…
If your contact lenses are ever uncomfortable or you feel they are causing red irritated eyes, do not just suffer through it. Call the office at (616) 219-8153 or click here, and lets upgrade your lenses and optimize your vision.
In addition to the above here are some contact lens tips I love to share:
- The type of contact lens you wear matters
- Daily contact lenses are the most hygienic and least likely to cause these issues when worn properly
- Do not sleep or nap in contacts
- Practice good lid hygiene
- Hypochlorous acid spray
- Reduces bacteria and provides a better, more stable tear film!