Contact lenses offer a convenient and discreet way to correct vision. However, if you’re new to wearing contacts, you might be wondering, “Does wearing contacts hurt?”
In this article, we’ll explore the factors that can lead to discomfort, signs that indicate it’s time to change your contact lenses, how long you should wear each pair, and why discomfort is common initially but tends to improve over time.
Understanding Contact Lens Discomfort
It’s important to note that many contact lens wearers experience some level of discomfort when they first start wearing lenses. This is entirely normal and often occurs as your eyes adjust to this new foreign object. Initial discomfort can include sensations like dryness, a feeling of something in your eye, or mild irritation.
Common Causes of Discomfort:
- Dry Eyes: Dry eyes can make contact lenses less comfortable. When your eyes are dry, the lenses may not glide smoothly over the surface.
- Debris and Allergens: Particles, dust, or allergens that get trapped under the lens can lead to irritation.
- Incorrect Fit: Poorly fitting lenses can cause friction on the eye’s surface, leading to discomfort.
- Protein and Lipid Buildup: Over time, proteins and lipids from your tears can accumulate on the surface of your lenses, making them less comfortable.
Signs You Should Change Your Contact Lenses
- Blurry Vision: If you notice a sudden decrease in the clarity of your vision, it could be a sign that your contact lenses are dirty, damaged, or need replacement.
- Constant Discomfort: While some initial discomfort is expected, ongoing discomfort, redness, or irritation may indicate an issue with your lenses or the need to change them.
- Frequent Infections: Frequent eye infections or inflammations can be a sign that your lenses are not being adequately cleaned or replaced.
- Torn or Damaged Lenses: If your lenses are torn, cracked, or damaged in any way, replace them immediately. Wearing damaged lenses can harm your eyes.
How Long Should You Wear Each Pair of Contact Lenses?
The wear time for contact lenses varies depending on the type and material of the lenses. Here are some general guidelines:
- Daily Disposables: These lenses are designed for single-use and should not be worn beyond a day. Dispose of them at night, even if they feel comfortable.
- Monthly Disposables: Monthly lenses can be worn for up to 30 consecutive days, but they must be removed and cleaned each night. Replace them as directed by your eye care professional.
- Extended Wear Lenses: Some lenses are approved for extended wear, meaning you can wear them continuously for a specified duration, often up to seven days. However, extended wear should be discussed with your eye care professional.
- Gas Permeable Lenses: Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses can last longer than soft lenses, often several years. However, they require regular cleaning and maintenance.
Why Discomfort Is Common Initially
As mentioned earlier, discomfort when wearing contact lenses is common, especially when you first start wearing them. Here’s why:
- Eye Sensation: Your eyes are incredibly sensitive. The presence of a foreign object can trigger sensations and mild discomfort.
- Dryness: Contact lenses can initially reduce tear film stability, leading to dry eyes. Over time, your eyes may adapt, and the dryness may improve.
- Lens Awareness: Initially, you’re more aware of the lenses in your eyes. With time, you become accustomed to the sensation, and your awareness diminishes.
Tips for Minimizing Discomfort
- Follow Your Eye Care Professional’s Guidance: Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will provide specific instructions on lens wear, care, and replacement. Follow these recommendations closely.
- Regular Cleaning: If you wear reusable lenses, clean and disinfect them as directed to prevent protein and lipid buildup.
- Use Lubricating Drops: Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops can help alleviate dryness and discomfort.
- Replace Lenses as Directed: Don’t extend the wear time of your lenses beyond what your eye care professional recommends.
- Avoid Sleeping in Lenses: Sleeping in contact lenses, unless they are approved for extended wear, can increase the risk of discomfort and complications.
In conclusion, experiencing some level of discomfort when first wearing contact lenses is common, and it often improves over time as your eyes adapt. However, it’s crucial to be attentive to signs of discomfort that may indicate issues with your lenses or the need for replacement.
Always follow your eye care professional’s guidance and prioritize proper lens care for a comfortable and safe contact lens experience.