I don't think it should be hurting this long
October 31, 2009 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Is it normal to have recurring headaches while wearing contacts? Yes, YANMD.

I started wearing contacts for the first time this past September (soft hydrogels). Got fitted properly, tested out a pair, prescription/comfort was good, bought a batch, hooray.

Of course, during the start-up period I had the usual headache/slightly nauseous feeling. I always have this whenever even a slight change is made to my prescription (I got new glasses at about the same time and that gave me a headache for a few days too), so I wasn't surprised. I adjusted to my glasses, adjusted to my contacts, and I thought all was golden.

Well, I don't actually wear my contacts as frequently as I'd like. I'm a student and I'm in chemistry labs 5 days a week, where contacts are strictly forbidden; contacts are generally for weekend use. And the last month I haven't touched my contacts at all save for a brief hour-long stint; 've been pulling lots of late nights and such and my eyes were generally too puffy and whatnot to have contacts in there comfortably. (As exemplified by the previous hour-long stint.)

So I finally put my contacts in today. I'm sure they're not inverted, I got the right eye to the right lens, they've been cleaned properly, etc. Vision is good, comfort is good...except the headache/nausea is back. And my friend who I was complaining to was like "...you're the only one I know who has problems with contacts for this long. You should be used to them by now." I'm like "...but I went a while without wearing them...?"

Is this normal? Should I be concerned?
posted by Hakaisha to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
Yes and no. It depends on your prescription strength and your own eyes' situation. You should go back and talk to your optometrist about this, in case a new brand or fit would help.

It might also be that, for example, you have a protein deposit on your contact lenses, which happened to me a year ago. I have mine in cleaning solution nightly, but after constant headaches and worsening vision, I went in. The optometrist showed me that there were protein buildups on my lenses, too small to see unaided but enough to make me squint all day -- especially at a computer. The solution was just to use a new pair. If this has been going on through a change of contact lenses, that's probably not it, though.

Personally I have such a strong prescription that I'm told that I've reached the upper limits of what contact lenses can do, and, since I'm not willing to get Lasik in order to wear "normal" corrective lenses on top of that, I've had to adjust to a bit of blur and headache. I doubt this is the case with you, though!
posted by Countess Elena at 3:07 PM on October 31, 2009

(I might add that eyestrain headaches can sneak up even when you feel your vision and comfort are good, because your facial muscles are making a lot of unconscious adjustments. How many times have I been told by my family, "You're squinting again. You need a new appointment"?)
posted by Countess Elena at 3:09 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

It seems to me that if adjusting to new prescription contacts causes eye-strain headaches, so should your glasses, no matter how often you wear each. After all, both your glasses and contacts have the same prescription (I assume), it's just a different method of delivery.

I got new contacts about a year ago, first new prescription in years, hadn't worn contacts for years either... and had no headaches whatsoever. I would regard that as normal, in my experience.

I'd be suspicious about the contacts themselves. I'd pop back to the optometrist, if it was me. Or at least ring them for advice.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:10 PM on October 31, 2009

Response by poster: My myopia is pretty mild. -3.00 in one eye with -0.5 astigmatism, and -1.75 in the other eye with -0.75 astigmatism. The optometrist said that my astigmatism is mild enough that I don't need toric lenses, and bumped my prescription up to -3.25 and -2.25 to compensate. My vision is decent that I don't complain about it, but they are of a different prescription than my glasses (which actually have astigmatism built in, and I wear every single day because I don't wear contacts as often).

This current pair of contacts I'm wearing was new when I opened it on Oct. 2; I wore it for an hour or so and then took them out, and they've been sitting in solution since until this morning, when I cleaned them again before putting them back in.
posted by Hakaisha at 3:14 PM on October 31, 2009

I would say, that wearing your contacts so seldom your eyes are simply not used to them. And since you get headaches when changing your prescription, you get headaches with your contacts just as if your prescription had changed.
Contacts and glasses are totally different in feel even when correcting for the same faults.
I am in the opposite camp than you are. I can't wear glasses. I am very near sighted in one eye and far sighted in the other. When I am waering glasses it does not only look ridiculous because one eye looks smaller that the other, but it also feels weired because it seems to me that I have a kind of long telescope attached to one eye. It's as if I am looking normal with one eye and through a pipe with the other.
I'm fine wearing contacts, though. A "soft" lens in one eye and a "hard" one in the other.
You have to decide what you want to wear, glasses or cantacts. Chemistry already seems to have made the choice for you, you're stuck wearing glasses.
posted by mmkhd at 3:20 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

I should't post slightly inebriated, the spelling mistakes get crazy. Sorry about that.
posted by mmkhd at 3:23 PM on October 31, 2009

When I had contacts, my doctor told me my astigmatism was minor enough that I could go without the correction in the contacts. But I did tend to get headaches when wearing them for more than a few hours, and I think that was the cause. There was always a minor but weird "perspective shift" when I switched between glasses and contacts.
posted by teg at 3:24 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't get headaches with my contacts. I have mild astigmatism that isn't accounted for with the lenses. Even when I wear them occasionally, headaches are not a problem.

If you get headaches with glasses after your prescription changes, it does sound like it is your eyes/noggin' adjusting to the different view though. You need to ask your eye doc about it. This type of followup question should be covered in your initial fitting charge you paid when you got them.

Once upon a time I did have a problem where my eyes would get itchy and uncomfortable sometimes. I suffered through this for years. I ended up asking my eye doc about it and he asked what wetting/cleaning solution I was using. Turns out, I was allergic to something in them. Switching to another brand cleared that right up. I bring this up since sometimes allergies cause headaches.
posted by birdherder at 3:48 PM on October 31, 2009

I completely agree with what the others have said, but there may be one more thing you might want to consider: dryness. I wear what used to be called Focus Night and Day (they've since changed the name), which are meant to be kept in for up to 30 days, even while asleep. I have a minor astigmatism I do not correct for, and my vision is quite bad: -8.75. I use the contacts the regular way (put in in morning, take out in evening), but got them to help combat dryness. That said, my eyes still get dry, and when they do, I get a bad headache, which eventually makes me feel nauseated and gives me a neck-ache if left untreated. I suppose it has to do with minor squinting and eyestrain or something, and may be made worse by the astigmatism. But my suggestion would be to carry around rewetting drops and apply them frequently, especially in heated, air conditioned, or smokey rooms. I like Blink and Clean, as they seem to lubricate the best. See if that doesn't help a little, but definitely followup on the others' suggestions too, in case there is a problem with the lenses.
posted by LillyBird at 4:06 PM on October 31, 2009

In my experience, it's normal, and it'll go away. Wearing contacts doesn't just change how blurry objects are. Your field of (good) vision is going to be wider, and your brain doesn't have to adjust for that slight distance correction from wearing glasses. So even if the prescription is the same, it's not totally the same experience for your eyes and your brain. The dizziness and headaches are normal. You just have to give it more time.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:08 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Having them overpowered might be making you strain more than usual when reading or doing other up-close things, especially if you're much over 35 or so.

I don't think it's too surprising you are having trouble since you are wearing them so occasionally. It's just like adjusting to new glasses, but these "glasses" aren't a very good match to your real prescription.

Sounds like you should just put them away and try again when the chemistry lab is over.
posted by fritley at 5:41 PM on October 31, 2009

I second birdherder on the allergies angle; I had used Renu cleaning solution for years, but my doctor tried me on a new type of contacts that requires the use of Opti-Free, and it gave me splitting headaches. (It also made my eyes feel like they were cramping up, an entirely odd effect I hope never to encounter again.) I switched back to Renu and the older lenses, and everything was fine.

If you're curious, the newer lenses were Acuvue Oasys, older were/are Acuvue 2.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 5:58 PM on October 31, 2009

I had this problem once when my contact lens prescription was slightly off. Whenever I would read or work on the computer, I got a headache. When I went back to the optometrist complaining of headaches, they switched my prescription in one eye to be one step lower, and my headaches disappeared. So I think you should give your optometrist a call at least - it is possible they got something wrong.
posted by beandip at 8:35 PM on October 31, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I'll give the lenses a bit more time this week, but if it doesn't work out I'll give the eye doc a ring.

I first got my eyes examined in early September, and because the prescription didn't seem to pose a problem then I went ahead and bought a few boxes of contacts (Ciba Vision Air Optix, if it makes a difference). If the vision doesn't improve, is there a chance that I can refund my boxes of unopened contacts, d'you think?

Also, I do regularly use rewetting drops; dryness isn't the problem. (I took out my contacts earlier and my headache and nausea slowly but surely faded, sigh.)
posted by Hakaisha at 8:43 PM on October 31, 2009

When I first got contacts, it took wearing them everyday for about two weeks before I got used to them. I would think that wearing them as seldom as you are, it will be harder to get your eyes adjusted.
posted by tamitang at 9:54 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older That last talk.   |   Stupid mousey thing no work! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.