Recommend me a gentle contact lens.
April 17, 2010 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Help! My contact lenses are killing my eyes. I'd like recommendations for a less irritating routine.

I've worn contacts for about a year and a half. I've always worn Acuvue Oasys.

For the first six months my eyes were very photosensitive when my contacts were in (to the point where I would have to pull over while driving becaue I was tearing up and squinting). My eyes were red and itchy, and I had a couple bad eye infections. My doctor switched me over to a ClearCase, which really helped with the photosensitivity and itchiness.

However, I still got a few eye infections that I couldn't clear up with OTC eyedrops. I don't know why, other than that my eyes are super sensitive. I didn't wait too long to change out the contacts, and I never slept in them overnight (when I did I was guaranteed an eye infection). My eyes were also always red, although they didn't hurt unless I had an infection. I never wore them for more than ten hours a day.

So I took a break, bought a pair of ZenniOpticals and for the past six months I've only worn glasses. I bought a new box of contacts a week ago and now I have that same redness problem. It's like a concentrated ring of redness (where my contact lies) as well as overall redness. And it doesn't clear up automatically when I take out the contact, it takes a couple of days to go away.

My eye doctor says that the Acuvue Oasys are the most moisturizing and breathable contacts there is, and says that if I'm still having problems I should switch them out every three or four days. This seems stupid because I'm experiencing the redness problem with a brand new pair of contacts, as well as expensive and excessive considering they are supposed to last a two weeks.

Anyone else with sensitive eyes have a contact recommendation other than Acuvue Oasys? Or an eyedrop I could use throughout the day to combat the redness?
posted by pintapicasso to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm. My eye doctor says that the most breathable contacts are Focus Night & Day. I have oxygen deprived eyes and these work very well. I used to use Acuvue (I don't know if it was Oasys or what) and they were much harsher on my eyes. My eyes were always red and itchy and photosensitive. Switching brands really helped.

The trick with the Focus Night & Day lenses is that although you are technically able to wear them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (I think; I don't know the specifics) don't do that. Take them out at the end of the day and soak them like normal lenses.
posted by k8lin at 8:33 PM on April 17, 2010

If you're having these issues even with brand new pairs, then I'd guess that the problem isn't your cleaning routine or your solution. Honestly, if you can't stand Acuvue Oasys (which are by far the most comfortable, breathable brand I've used in the 14 years I've had contacts), then maybe contacts just aren't for you.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:34 PM on April 17, 2010

When you say "eye doctor," do you mean an optometrist or ophthalmologist? I'd be more interested in figuring out why your corneas are so sensitive and what steps can be taken to mitigate the allergic response than in finding a new brand of contacts; if they can isolate and fix the underlying issue, you won't have to be so picky about contact choices.

See if you can hook up with an ophthalmologist who's good with corneal conditions-- they should be able to help you get sorted, and prescribe eyedrops that will help instead of OTC preparations like Visine, which isn't good for chronic redness (it can cause rebound bouts of increased redness, which would suck in your case, and it can make underlying eye conditions worse).

I'm not an ophthalmologist. However, I do have an unhealthy love for them and for their specialty.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:37 PM on April 17, 2010

Ultrasensitive eyes here, and I've had tremendous luck with the Biofinity lenses from Cooper-Vision. I was having some early trouble with them but it turned out to be a lens solution issue. I switched to the Clear Care, and then the to Target cheapo version of Clear Care and haven't had any more trouble.
posted by terrierhead at 8:38 PM on April 17, 2010

I had to give up contacts after persistent problems with protein deposits. I wore a brand new pair to the optometrist's office and she asked why I'd been wearing them non-stop for a week. I had worn contacts (many brands) for over ten years at that point but ultimately I could not wear them longterm. I agree that if you have issues with brand new lenses, contacts are probably not the right choice for you.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:40 PM on April 17, 2010

I switched to Biofinity from Acuvue Oasys – much better. The redness ought to go away if your eyes are sufficiently moisturized. Try Refresh P.M., an ointment that you put into your eyes at night, and drinking lots of water during the day (these are all my eye doctor's recommendations that worked very well for me when I was on Accutane, a medication that made my eyes extremely sensitive).
posted by halogen at 8:48 PM on April 17, 2010

Seconding fairytale....go find an ophthalmologist. Contacts aren't for everyone-some people have sensitive eyes and simply cannot tolerate them-due to an underlying condition or just a very strong tendency towards infection. These types of more systemic issues might be better diagnosed by an MD than an OD (optometrist). But some people just take some work to find the right brand. Then there is me-I sleep in mine sometimes, wear a ton of eye makeup, and have been known to "rinse" them in my mouth in a pinch and have been infection and problem free for fifteen years. And I'm married to an ophthalmologist who has washed his hands of me due to these bad habits.

Also, stay the hell away from Visine. If your eyes are dry, use artificial tears, not Visine. That stuff just makes everything worse.
posted by supercapitalist at 8:50 PM on April 17, 2010

IANAD or an optometrist, but I've worn contact lenses, including "30 day" lenses, of both the permanent and disposable types, since 1982, or, about 28 years. For most of us, our contacts are fitted to "float" a bit on our eyeballs, in the normal amount of tear fluid that they find there. I'm shocked that you're reporting a 'red ring' where your contact lies after only a few hours of wear, as I've never, ever had such a problem, even with Acuvue Oasys lenses, which I also wear.

Not that I think a lot of Acuvue Oasys lenses - in terms of average quality, they're nowhere near the CooperVision permanent 30 day lenses I wore back in the '80s (which were withdrawn from sale in the U.S. in the early '90s), and I get about 1 bad lens, out of the case, in every 4 boxes (2 right, 2 left). By "bad," I mean a lens with a visible edge fault, or shape defect, that is immediately apparent as "non-wearable" the moment I put it into my eye, if not before (and I examine the hell of these things, on the end of my finger, before putting a new one in my eye... but still get a 8% or greater level of "bad" ones). So far, I have had no luck getting Acuvue to take back a single such defective lens, for credit, and have become tired, in the extreme, of listening to their customer service reps extol the virtues of their quality control systems. I just toss them, now, and eat the cost, myself.

That said, I've never heard of, or seen a "red ring" condition from another contact lens wearer, that wasn't either an allergic reaction to the lens material, or a bad lens/shape/serious fit problem. This calls for immediate further consultation with your optometrist, and maybe a second opinion, from an ophthalmologist.

Don't screw around - most of us only have one set of eyes in each lifetime.
posted by paulsc at 8:51 PM on April 17, 2010

Have you tried daily wear lenses?
I also found for me I just had problems with certain lenses (e.g. the regular acuview daily wear are great for me but the "moist" ones paradoxically irritate my eyes.)
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:03 PM on April 17, 2010

I have slightly sensitive eyes. About a year or so ago, I switched from two-week disposables (and the name of the brand escapes me) to Focus Dailies; as the name implies, they are of the throw-each-pair-away-every-night variety. The price difference is not insignificant ($42 every three months for the two-week disposables, $92 over the same period for the Focus Dailies), but they've made a world of difference. I also get some savings from not having to buy ClearCare anymore, and I chalk the rest of the difference up to the price of convenience. (It is wonderful to come home exhausted, wash my hands, take out my contacts, and flop into bed.)

Disclaimer: I neither work for whatever company makes Focus Dailies, nor am I an optometrist. Next time you visit yours, though, you might consider bringing up switching to dailies. At the very least, he/she should have some samples you could try.
posted by andrewcilento at 9:07 PM on April 17, 2010

Dailies make the world of difference to me. I have dry, irritable eyes.

I've done the Focus Night & Day as well as ProClear Compatibles. I prefer the Focus Dailies over those.
posted by Ouisch at 9:25 PM on April 17, 2010

Anecdotally, I had a contact lens in one eye only after some surgery (they'd corrected one of my eyes and the other one still needed help).

For various reasons, they didn't want me to touch my own eyes. My ophthalmologist-- who was a total mad scientist, mind-- would dope the hell out of my eye with MAST inhibitors and antibiotics and throw the lens in, and I'd go home for six weeks of not giving a shit about it. I'd come back, he'd pull it, and we'd do it again.

This worked for quite a while, and I never had a problem from it. This is, obviously, Action Ophthalmology, and I'm willing to bet your MD will come up with something vastly less crazy, OP... unless, of course, you're in Sacramento, CA or surroundings, in which case I can recommend you a hell of an ophthalmologist. ;)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:01 PM on April 17, 2010

You know, Acuvue Oasys are *not* the end all-be all. In fact, they are a slightly different shape and size than, for example, Acuvue 2 lenses. I cannot wear Oasys and actually had the same experience as you of trying them for six months, then just going back to glasses. I found a terrific new eye doctor who suggested Acuvue 2. I was like the girl in the commercial - "Wow! Everything is so clear!" So really my advice is to just try other lenses til one feels right.
posted by infinityjinx at 11:17 PM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I actually had the same allergic reaction to the Acuvue Oasys, they were miserable, I couldn't keep them in a day! When i went back to the ophthalmologist, they said this was actually really common for some people. Try changing them out, your ophthalmologist should swap them for free (mine did, and they nickle & dime *a lot*). They gave me my old standby brand, Acuvue 2, and all was well.
posted by jenh at 11:46 PM on April 17, 2010

Please note that I tried the Acuvue Oasys lenses and had a horrible reaction... to the cleansing solution used with them. When I wore them, Opti-Free was the only solution that worked with them, and I learned the hard way that I am severely allergic to that solution. I'm now on the Acuvue 2 lenses with Renu solution, and have zero issues. Just an anecdote.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 12:30 AM on April 18, 2010

I previously wore Acuvue Advance and Oasys for years, because all the optometrists I saw swore up and down that this was the most comfortable lens out there. No. The contact lens would shift around in my eyes and mess up my astigmatism. They would also get so dry, I would be convinced that I was this close to blinking them out. Eyedrops would last for about fifteen minutes before I started getting dry again.

I finally decided to kick up a fuss and repeatedly went back (fortunately, the subsequent contact lens fittings were included in the initial examination cost) until I got something I was comfortable with. Keep going back to the optometrist/opthalmologist/whoever, until you get something you're comfortable with. They should be able to order trials from the contact lens company, for most (if not any) contact lens available.

FWIW, I now find CooperVision ClearSight dailies to be the most comfortable. The dailies get expensive, but I also have a prescription for CooperVision Proclear monthlies (comfortable, too). I tried Focus dailies, but they would get dry way too much.
posted by Xere at 1:48 AM on April 18, 2010

I recently switched from plain old Acuvues to Oasys. I have noticed that the first day I put new ones in they irritate my eyes, but after a couple of days of wearing and a cleaning or two the irritation goes away. My guess is that I'm sensitive to the solution that new Oasys come packaged in. I don't know if you've tried cleaning them in a solution that you know doesn't bother you before you put them in, but that seems to help me.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:47 AM on April 18, 2010

When I had Acuvue Lenses, I may as well have had glass shards in my eyes with all of the itching, irritation, and eye infections you described. Changing eye doctors and changing to Bausch & Lomb Soflens made a world of difference. I also use Clear Care for cleaning. I had almost given up on contacts until I hit on this combination.

By the way, I always have to wear sunglasses when outside even on days when it's overcast or my eyes will tear up and burn. I've worn contacts of different brands for thirty years and have always found this to be the case. Get some good sunglasses if you haven't already.
posted by tamitang at 5:59 AM on April 18, 2010

Please note that I tried the Acuvue Oasys lenses and had a horrible reaction... to the cleansing solution used with them. When I wore them, Opti-Free was the only solution that worked with them, and I learned the hard way that I am severely allergic to that solution. I'm now on the Acuvue 2 lenses with Renu solution, and have zero issues. Just an anecdote.

Same problem with some other brand. Whatever goop is in the lens package irritates my eyes. I rinse it off with Opti Free and smooth sailing...
posted by gjc at 6:45 AM on April 18, 2010

Could this be an allergy to some weird little thing that's only in contact lenses and nothing else?
posted by bluedaisy at 10:56 AM on April 18, 2010

I would get infections from every pair of soft lenses I ever wore. The ophthalmologist finally recommended that gas permeable lenses and I love them. Maybe you need to get away from the soft/disposable lenses altogether.
posted by nimsey lou at 11:15 AM on April 18, 2010

Have you tried switching contact solution? Several times? The redness without pain sounds like what I had when I started getting an allergic reaction to Opti-free. I don't know what ingredient it is that caused the reaction, but both Aquify and Complete are ok for me. It sounds like it could be a confluence of factors though really, perhaps bad lense fit and contact solution allergy, or something like that.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 7:00 PM on April 18, 2010

Back when I was wearing the type of contacts you take out, clean, and store, there were certain solutions I couldn't use because of my allergy to nickel. I wear Focus Dailies now, and don't have any problems. (I think it's weird that there'd be nickel in contact solutions, but that's what my eye doctor told me.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:02 AM on April 19, 2010

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