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What problems are associated with contact lenses?

David R. Demartini, MD
Ophthalmology
Contacts are generally very safe and well tolerated. They can cause problems such as infections, allergy, toxicity, or poor performance in vision correction. Most of these are rare if a careful clinician fits and monitors them.
Contacts are very convenient and helpful for vision correction but should not be the only means of correction for each patient. Patients who do not have glasses tend to wear their contacts eventhough they are bothering their eyes. This often leads to serious infections that can cause permanent damage to eyes. When in doubt get help to prevent injury.

Contact lenses are generally safe. Still, they can cause problems, typically eye discomfort, redness or excess tearing. In rare cases, contacts (largely extended-wear lenses) can cause a serious infection called a corneal ulcer. Symptoms are redness, pain, tearing and light sensitivity. If left untreated, it can damage vision permanently.

Infections are most common in extended-wear contacts, because fewer oxygen-carrying tears are produced when eyes are closed during sleep. Additionally, failing to keep lenses of any type clean can lead to an infection.

Care should be taken when buying cosmetic lenses at locations (such as a flea market or costume store) that don't specialize in contacts. Improperly sterilized lenses or those that incorrectly fit the cornea can cause infections and damage vision.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.