Eye Health Central

Common contact lens problems and who to contact

Problems with your contact lenses? find out who to contact

Optometrist appointment

Wearing contact lenses should be hassle-free, the ideal pair of well-fitted contact lenses cause no pain or irritation, in fact, you should be able to forget you are wearing them.

However, on occasion, even the pro contact lens wearer can experience a few eye problems, this could be contact lens-related or eye-related, so do you go to your optometrist or your doctor?
Check out the most common issues experienced when wearing contact lenses and who to contact should you experience any of them.

Problems experienced by contact lens wearers can be broken down into 2 main categories.
  • Contact lens Issues
  • Eye issues

Common Contact Lens Issues

  1. Difficulty inserting a contact lens
    If you are experiencing difficulty with inserting a contact lens, check out our helpful guide How do I put my Contact lenses in? This should give you plenty of tips on making sure you are handling your contact lenses correctly and how best to get your lenses in, first time, every time. However, if you’ve tried all of our tips and followed our “How to insert your contact lenses “ video then you should pop into your Opticians practice and ask if they can refresh you on insertion and removal techniques.
  2. Difficulty removing a contact lens
    If you are experiencing difficulty with removing your contact lenses Don’t panic, take a few deep breaths, and check out our helpful guide on How to remove contact lenses. This should provide you with plenty of tips on how to remove your contact lens, there is even a short video demonstration. If you still can’t remove your contact lens, pop to your opticians and ask them to remove your lens and ask for a demonstration on how to remove your lens for next time.
  3. Ripped lens
    If you notice your lens is torn, ripped, or missing a piece, then contact the contact lens supplier, they will be able to offer advice and in many cases replace the lens. If you have removed your lens and noticed a piece missing you can try to flush it out by following the steps in number 4 below or follow the instruction in number 6 below.
  4. Constant feeling something is in your eye
    Whilst wearing your contact lenses if you experience a sensation that feels like there is something in your eye, remove your contact lens, and check that the lens looks clean and that it is intact i.e no nicks or tears, if it all looks good, rinse your contact lens in clean all purpose contact lens solution and re-insert. In most cases, this is all that is required and will solve the problem.
    If your eye still feels as though there is something in there, remove the contact lens, and look at your eye in more detail, can you see any foreign object in your eye? If there is a small bit of dander or grit you can try rinsing your eye using an eye bath (a small shot glass or something similar should also do the trick) fill the eye bath with all-purpose contact lens solution, now rest the glass gently in the eye socket and pour the liquid over your eye to try to rinse out whatever is in there.
    If the irritation persists you should see your Optician, if you can see anything embedded in the eye or if the pain worsens you could go straight to A and E.
  5. Dry eyes
    First ask yourself, when are you experiencing dry eyes?
    If you are experiencing dry eyes at the end of the day whilst wearing contact lenses, remove your lenses and give your eyes a break, it could be you are overwearing your lenses, if you experience late-night dry eyes regularly then make an appointment with your optometrist.
    If you experience dry eyes regularly when wearing contact lenses, it could be your lenses are interfering with your eye’s natural hydration process, you should make an appointment with your optometrist who will assess your eyes and your contact lenses, their fit, your wear time, etc It may be that a different type of lens is more suitable for you, or your wear time schedule needs adjusting, or, maybe you would benefit from some rewetting drops. The best person to advise about these problems is your optometrist.
  6. Lost a contact lens or a piece of lens in your eye
    If you think you have lost a lens in your eye, don’t panic, a lens cannot migrate to the back of your eye. The most likely scenario is that your lens has become dislodged and has moved up or down under your eyelid.
    Have a look in the mirror and see if you can see the lens (they can be difficult to see) if you can find the lens then you can try to manipulate the lens back in place by gently massaging the outer surface of your eyelid. A friend, if available can help look as well, using a good light. If you can find the lens you can apply a few drops of rewetting drops or any other contact lens solution to your eye and blink rapidly, this should help moisten and move the lens so that you can see it more easily, it may also just wash the lens out.
    If this doesn’t work contact your optometrist.

Common Eye Issues

Eye issues can present themselves at any time, whether you are wearing your contact lenses or not, and include-

  1. Burning and itchiness
    You shouldn’t experience burning and itchiness with contact lenses, so if you do it’s an indication that something is wrong.
    Ask yourself, Have you changed your brand of solution? Does your contact lens case need cleaning or replacing? Was there anything on your hands when you inserted the lens?
    If you answered yes to any of these questions then leave your lenses out until you address the issue.
    If the answer is no, then it is possible you are experiencing either an allergy to pollen, dander or dust, in which case you should remove your lenses, clean and soak them in fresh solution, or dispose of them if they are daily disposables.
    Check out our detailed guide on Burning Eyes. If the irritation continues or you notice any discharge of mucus, this could indicate something more serious, so make an urgent appointment with your optometrist.
  2. Grittiness
    If you have a sensation of grittiness or feel that something is in your eye, if you are wearing your lenses take them out and follow the steps in 4 above for “Constant feeling something is in your eye”, if you are not wearing your lenses then try the eye bath mentioned, if that doesn’t relieve the grittiness you should see your Optometrist, so they can rule out conditions such as dry eye syndrome and allergies
  3. Blurred vision
    There are many reasons a person may be experiencing blurred vision, from not having their vision corrected, to serious health issues, check out our helpful article on the causes of blurred vision. Blurred vision should never be ignored, if you experience blurred vision then make a prompt appointment to see your optometrist 
  4. Red Eyes
    The whites of your eyes (the sclera) can be an indication of the health of your eyes, so if they are looking pink or red it is an indication that the vessels on the surface are being irritated. This may be due to simple irritants like dry air, allergic reactions, infection, or other medical conditions.
    In most cases, mild red eyes are not serious and will clear up on their own if the irritant is removed. However, if red eyes are accompanied by discharge or pain, then you should seek medical attention either from your optometrist or general practitioner.
  5. Eye Discharge
    Eye discharge is your body's way of removing unwanted or harmful waste from your eyes. However, if you are experiencing excessive discharge from your eye(s) or if it is yellowish, or greenish, this may indicate an infection. Make an appointment with your optometrist or general practitioner.
    You can find more info on eye discharge in our helpful guide.
  6. Eye Pain
    Eye pain can present itself at any time and can feel like a dull ache, a throbbing sensation, or a sharp pain.
    Eye pain should never be ignored if you experience sore eyes accompanied by either Redness, Dry eyes, or Mild discharge then you should make an appointment to see your optometrist
    Seek immediate medical attention if you experience
    • Sudden, severe eye pain
    • Vision loss or sudden changes in vision
    • Intense redness, discharge, or swelling
    • Trauma or injury to the eye
    • Severe headache, fever, or a stiff neck accompanied by eye pain
    Check out our in-depth guide to eye pain for more details.
  7. Sensitivity to Light
    The most common cause of light sensitivity or Photophobia is a migraine, up to 80% of migraine sufferers experience photophobia If you are aware that you are experiencing light sensitivity and you are a migraine sufferer then try resting in a darkened, quiet room, alternatively, try applying a hot or cold compress to your head or neck. -  Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the pain. Hot packs can help relax tense muscles.
    Check out our detailed article on retinal migraines.
    If your light sensitivity is severe or painful, and if you experience severe headaches, red eyes, or blurred vision that doesn’t go away in a day or two contact your Optometrist or General practitioner.

If you are wearing contact lenses and experience any of the issues or symptoms above - remove your lenses, so you are better able to assess the problem.

If in doubt phone your optometrist or General practitioner and explain your symptoms, if out of hours and you are experiencing eye trauma or pain then go to the A and E department at your local hospital.

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 23 Sep 2023, Last modified: 1 Jun 2024