Dry sore eyes without contacts
June 2, 2009 6:21 PM   Subscribe

My eyes are dry and sore when I'm *not* wearing my contact lenses. Does anyone else experience this?

I have a regular optometrist's checkup coming up next month at which I will ask about this, but I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced the weirdness of having sorer eyes *without* contacts, and whether/how it's been treated. Everything I can find via Google is about eyes being sorer with contacts, not without them.

I'm very short-sighted and have been wearing contact lenses for around 24 years. I generally wear them all day, every day as I don't like glasses - they make my eyes look disproportionately tiny, the lenses are very thick and my field of vision feels enclosed.

About eight months ago my eyes started looking a bit blurry. I went to the optometrist who worked out that my prescription had changed - my astigmatism has become more pronounced - and also that I had extraordinarily dry eyes. She also thought that I might have some problems with the composition of the lens itself, as just before I'd had the problems my contact lens manufacturer had discontinued my old lenses and switched to a new more oxygen-permeable type. I got my prescription changed, got new glasses and astigmatism contacts, and she treated the dry eye with gel and drops. The problem lessened a great deal although it didn't completely disappear, but my optometrist was satisfied I could keep my eyes happy with drops.

Lately the problem's begun increasing again, and I find it is actually worse when I'm not wearing my lenses. It almost feels as if the air against my naked eyeballs is too cold or too harsh, and if I concentrate on anything - computer, a book, TV - my eyes get watery and sore. When I have my lenses in, they feel more comfortable - but they're still getting a bit blurry again and my eyes are red a lot of the time.

However, I took a week off work recently and during that week I didn't have any problems with my eyes! They were comfortable and not red or watery - I didn't need to use the drops at all. During that time I spent almost as much time on the computer as I do at work, but I wasn't in the air-conditioned, high rise office in the city. Anyone else get *that* problem?

The lenses are fortnightly disposables - Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism - and I religiously change them according to schedule, and I also use the gel at night and drops in the daytime.
posted by andraste to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've worn contacts as long as you have but I've always noticed that my eyes feel 'dry' when I don't have my contacts in. In fact, my eyes feel better when I have my lenses in. I usually wear my lenses until right before going to bed and I usually put them in just after waking up. Maybe I've conditioned myself to prefer wearing the lenses.

My eyes never get blurry, sore or red though. That's something to ask the doctor about.
posted by birdherder at 6:37 PM on June 2, 2009

2nding a trip to the eye doctor. I had something similar to what you describe: wearing the lenses was fine, but after taking them off, my eyes would get very red, itchy and irritated, painful, light-sensitive and tear up without relief. It would take about 3 days before starting to clear up. The Dr. had no clue what was wrong and thought it could have been Tygeson's. So after trying different lenses, allergy eye drops, and dry eye drops, the Dr. chalked it up to an infection and prescribed me Tobradex. Cleared it up in 2 days and it hasn't been back since.
posted by Cookbooks and Chaos at 6:51 PM on June 2, 2009

I had this happen to me and the eye doctor said I had scratches on my cornea. So I stopped wearing contact lenses.
posted by dfriedman at 7:19 PM on June 2, 2009

Yes, I have had the same experience lately. Sore, sore, sore and ever so slightly red.
When you see the eye doctor get her/him to invert your eyelids. That was were my problem was on the underside of my eyelids. I am now on steroid drops to clear it up.
posted by Toto_tot at 8:43 PM on June 2, 2009

I used to have all sorts of problems with contact lens wear (i wore contacts for 18 years, until i got my eyes lasered last december). Turned out that i was wearing my contacts too consistently, and that my eyes were adapting by changing the growth patterns of blood vessels in my eyes to compensate. Perhaps your eyes have adapted to contacts as 'the norm', and it perceives 'no contacts' as problematic? (Sort of like how women who wear high heels all the time feel pain when they wear flat shoes?)

Also, suggestion: perhaps switch (or visit) an ophthalmologist instead of an optometrist? Just in case there's something serious going on?

posted by Kololo at 9:52 PM on June 2, 2009

My optometrist suggested flaxseed oil for my dry eyes. I take a capsule twice a day: it works!
posted by Carol Anne at 4:51 AM on June 3, 2009

If the problem is simply dry eyes you might ask about punctal plugs. They block the tear ducts which drain the tears from your eyes. I had them inserted just before Lasic surgery. (Which I bailed on. I decided I like glasses).

They are easy to try. You can get plugs that dissolve/fall out on their own in a few weeks. I believe there are more durable ones if you like them.
posted by cosmac at 7:42 AM on June 3, 2009

I will not contradict what others say here, but check with an ophthalmologist.
Have them check for for map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy.
I "suffer" from this condition, the fix (for me) is very simple: an ointment used at bedtime. (I only need it once a week or so, YMMV.)

[IANAO (ophthalmologist), I only wish I were.]
posted by Drasher at 11:30 AM on June 3, 2009

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