Contact Lens Problems
Contact lenses are a popular method for correction of refractive errors to attain better vision and offer many benefits, especially cosmetic and avoiding other inconveniences related to the use of spectacles.
However, all contact lenses, whatever the type, are still foreign bodies to the eye. As such, problems related to their usage can (and commonly do!) happen.
The most common problems are:
All contact lenses, due to their adherence to the corneal surface, will reduce the oxygen supply to the cornea to a certain extent. When this goes on for too long, the cornea swells and becomes hazy, resulting in a red, teary and painful eye. This is referred to as the overwear syndrome and the lenses should be removed immediately.
ALLERGY AND GIANT PAPILLARY CONJUNCTIVITIS
Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) is the most common eye complication related to contact lens use and can occur even after a few years of wearing lenses successfully. It occurs more often in association with the use of soft lenses.
The underlying cause of GPC is most commonly an allergic reaction to lens protein deposits, contact lens material or contact lens solution. This results in the formation of multiple tiny swellings on the undersurface of the upper eyelid.
The symptoms include redness and irritation, often with itching and mucus discharge and sometimes blurred vision and light sensitivity.
The lenses must be removed and your eye doctor will prescribe medicated eyedrops to facilitate healing. There is, however, no cure for GPC and it may recur even with a change of lens type or cleaning solution.
INFECTIONS AND CORNEAL ULCER
These conditions result from infectious micro-organisms like viruses, bacteria or fungi entering through a break in the corneal surface.
They are the most feared complication of contact lens wear because of the risk of blindness.
They occur more frequently in users of soft and extended-wear lenses, more so when lenses are worn overnight.
The symptoms are that of a painful red eye, with tearing and blurred vision. A white spot may also be seen on the surface of the cornea.
Once a corneal ulcer is suspected, the lenses must be removed immediately and a thorough eye examination conducted as soon as possible.
The diagnosis can be confirmed on a slit lamp examination, using fluorescein dye and further tests to identify the micro-organisms can then be carried out.
Prompt treatment is essential to preserve sight.and involves the use of strong and specific anti-microbial eyedrops. In severe cases, hospitalization for intravenous medications and round-the-clock therapy.may be necessary.
As can be seen from the conditions mentioned above, prudent and responsible use of contact lenses, accompanied by good hygiene practices will help to reduce the chances of complications occurring.
When any symptoms like redness, pain or blurred vision are noticed, the contact lenses should be removed and medical attention sought.
A yearly check-up with an optometrist or ophthalmologist is recommended for all contact lens users to review lens fitting and condition and to screen for early signs of related problems, which can then be addressed accordingly.