Contact Lens Related Infections

Frequently asked questions on common eye infections associated with wearing contact lenses.

What can cause contact lenses-related eye infections?

While contact lenses are safely worn by many, there is a risk of developing eye infections. Factors that contribute to an infection can include:

  • Use of extended-wear lenses
  • Reduced tear exchange under the lens
  • Environmental factors
  • Poor hygiene

How can I avoid getting an eye infection due to contact lenses?

The best way to avoid eye infections due to wearing contact lenses is to follow proper lens care guidelines as recommended by your optometrist. Single usage one day throw away lenses are affordable, extremely safe, easy to manage, and are available in most prescriptions. Best of all you don’t have to carry around contact lens solutions which are costly and cumbersome.

Below are some of the most common eye infections associated with wearing contact lenses.

What are corneal ulcers?

A corneal ulcer is an erosion or exposed sore on the surface of the cornea. Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by germs. Other causes of corneal ulcers include viruses, injury, and inadequate eyelid closure. Sometimes when wearing a contact lens we are less sensitive to these conditions as they begin, like having a band-aid on a cut, so it is important to remove your lenses as instructed. Being aware of how your eyes look and feel. when your lens is on is an important aspect of proper contact lens care.

What are the symptoms of corneal ulcers?

The symptoms of corneal ulcers include:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Tearing
  • Discharge
  • White spot on the cornea
  • Blurry vision
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Light sensitivity

How are corneal ulcers diagnosed and treated?

Early diagnosis is important in treating corneal ulcers. Your optometrist will ask you questions to determine what caused the ulcer. Your eyes will then be examined, sometimes a special dye may be placed in your eye to aid in the diagnosis don’t worry it doesn’t hurt at all. Treatment usually involves eye drops and is very effective when treatment is started early.

What is Contact Lens Induced Acute Red Eye (CLARE)?

CLARE is an inflammatory reaction of the cornea and conjunctiva (a thin and transparent membrane that covers the sclera, the white part of the eye). This infection is mostly caused by sleeping with contact lenses and is characterized by awaking with red eyes.

What is the treatment for CLARE?

In most cases, no treatment is required. It is recommended that patients discontinue lens wear, which usually remedies the condition. However, if redness or irritation persists after 24 hours, you should see your optometrist. If you experience pain, sensitivity to light, or a decrease in vision, you should see your optometrist immediately.

What is Contact Lens Papillary Conjunctivitis also known as Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC)?

GPC is an inflammatory reaction of the upper eye lid and is very common among those that over wear their contact lenses. One day lenses are an excellent choice for those who have experienced this.

What are the symptoms of GPC?

The symptoms of GPC include small, red bumps on the inflamed tissue on the underside of the upper eyelids. There is usually itchiness, discharge, increased lens awareness, and decreased lens tolerance.

What is the treatment for GPC?

Your optometrist may prescribe eye drops to control the inflammation. Once under control usually a different type of lenses will be prescribed.


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