Why Do My Contact Lenses Hurt?

Published on 05/26/2023
why do my contact lenses hurt

It takes a bit of time to get used to new contact lenses, especially if you’ve never worn them before. However, contact lenses should never hurt. If your contact lenses are causing you significant discomfort, remove them ASAP, swap them for your glasses, and contact your optometrist to check-in.

6 Common Reasons Your Contact Lenses Hurt

Here are some common reasons contact lenses cause pain or discomfort. See if any of these resonate with you and try the fixes. If you can’t get relief, switch back to being a four-eyes and schedule an appointment with your optometrist to get to the heart of the matter.

Improper contact lens care

Your contacts came with instructions for proper cleaning and storage for contact lenses. If you have disposable lenses, they also remind you to use one pair per day, not reuse them, and remove them before bed. Ignoring or slacking off on contact lens care is one of our patients' most common eye care mistakes.

These and other contact lens care instructions are essential to the health and comfort of your eyes. If you’ve been “cheating” and wearing contacts overnight, for more than the specified time, or in environments where glasses are better suited (heavy pollen days, while doing yard work, etc.), it’s time to follow the contact care instructions.

The Fix: Give your eyes a contact lens break for a few days, put a fresh pair of contacts in, and honor contact lens care instructions to the letter. If that doesn’t work, schedule an eye appointment. 

Something is trapped between the lens and your eye

The eyes are highly vulnerable to surface scratches, particularly if small particulate matter gets trapped between the contact lens and the eye. Even specks of dust or pollen invisible to the naked eye cause problems occasionally.

The Fix: Always remove contact lenses immediately if they continue causing discomfort after using contact-lens-safe eye drops. If they’re disposable, throw them away. If not, clean them as per the instructions and store them in their case temporarily. 

See how your eyes feel without the lenses. If they feel back to normal, try a new (or freshly cleaned) pair of contacts. If the eyes still feel irritated, odds are the surface was scratched and needs some time to heal. Wear glasses for the next couple of days and try your contacts again.

Allergies are getting the best of you

Do you suffer from allergies - seasonal or otherwise? Managing allergies is key to eye and vision comfort, especially if you wear contact lenses. Allergies exacerbate any discomfort related to contact lenses, and seasonal pollen increases the likelihood of irritants getting stuck between the lens and your eye.

The first step is working with your physician to find the most effective means of managing your allergies. Once you’ve done that, use contact-lens-friendly allergy eye drops, which can relieve allergy-related itchy, gritty, or watery eyes.

The Fix: If that doesn’t work, switch to eyeglasses for the next week as you monitor eye symptoms. It may be that you’ll need to minimize contact lens use during peak allergy seasons or while in the presence of your primary triggers.

You have an eye infection

Eye infections are highly contagious and can go from barely noticeable to extremely uncomfortable in a short amount of time. Symptoms of an eye infection include:

  • Red and irritated eyes
  • An itchy, painful, or gritty sensation
  • Watery eyes
  • Goopy eyes 
  • Eyes that are stuck together by goopy lashes when you wake up
  • Minimal relief from over-the-counter eye drops

The Fix: If your contacts are bothering you and you have any of these symptoms, immediately remove the contacts. See if you experience any relief in the next hours to the next day. If symptoms continue or increase, odds are something else is going on, and you’ll need to schedule an online or in-person visit with your doctor or optometrist.

Dry eyes

The risk of developing dry eyes increases as we age due to hormonal and age-related changes. Medications can also cause dry eye symptoms. However, we’re seeing an increase in dry eye-related issues in younger patients due to the amount of time people spend on screens. 

Dry eye is a contact lens enemy because it strips the lenses of the lubrication they need to move naturally over the surface of the eye. Give your eyes a break for a week and see if the symptoms ease up. If so, dry eye might be the problem

The Fix: If you suspect it’s dry eye, remain contact-free for a few weeks as you learn how to manage it. In most cases, people with dry eyes find the relief they need by using preservative-free eye drops regularly to keep the eyes moist. You should also practice healthy screen use practices, giving your eyes a break every 20 minutes and gazing into the distance for a minute or two as you enjoy the eye drop relief. 

Wear glasses whenever possible when spending long periods of time in front of screens to encourage natural eye moisture levels, and save contacts for when you’re not working.

Improper fit making contact lenses hurt

If your eyes only feel painful or uncomfortable while wearing contacts, it might mean you have the wrong fit or prescription. Both of these lead to discomfort as well as eye strain.

The Fix: Schedule a contact lens exam with your optometrist so we can take a look at how they rest in your eyes. If improper lens fit is an issue, we’ll order you a new pair and start again.

Contact Eye To Eye Family Vision Care Whenever Your Contact Lense Hurt

Don’t suffer in silence or wait a moment longer to figure out what’s going on. Painful or uncomfortable lenses deserve immediate attention. Contact Eye to Eye Family Vision Care so we can determine what’s causing you pain and correct it. Your healthy vision and eye comfort are our top priorities!