Contact lenses and temporarily sticky eyes
November 8, 2005 8:22 PM   Subscribe

I started wearing bifocal contact lenses a week ago (Bausch & Lomb SoftLens monthly wear) but have woken with gummy eyes every morning since I switched from my old Acuvues (soft lenses for simple nearsightedness).

I have no pain, just some more dried mucus than usual. Occasionally one or the other eye is a little pink, but it doesn't last very long. Every morning I wash my hands and carefully clean my eyes, wear glasses until my eyes look OK, then put in the contacts and wear them for my usual 12-16 hours. I've had eye infections a couple of times before, but these left my affected eye crusty and red all the time until it healed. My working hypotheseis is that these new, thicker contacts are letting less oxygen in, leading to increased mucus production at night. That way lies scary stuff like keratitis and corneal ulcers, I know.

Yes, I'm calling my optometrist tomorrow. Yes, I'm wearing glasses right now and will keep wearing glasses until I get clearance to wear the contacts again. Yes, I'll be cutting back my wearing times to 8-10 hours a day. But I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this sort of thing upon switching lens types.
posted by maudlin to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Did you change your lens cleaner as well? I've had similar experiences whenever I tried (or, needed) to use another brand of cleaner when my usual was not available.

Also, have you worn lenses before? (I would assume yes, but I thought I'd ask) If not, then a certain level of mucous in the morning is fairly typical (at least, in my experience). Your eyes are getting less oxygen and they will be a lot dryer so it might just be something you'll have to get used too.

Your own recommendations are the best advice, check with your optometrist first. But, if you have never worn contacts before then try to switch solutions and see if that makes any difference.
posted by purephase at 9:00 PM on November 8, 2005

I've had similar experiences when changing brands. I was told that it is a mild case of conjunctivitis, which usually wears off after an adjustment period.

I'm not sure if they are available in bifocal form, but you might want to ask your optometrist to see if he/she will fit you for a sample set of the new fluoro-silicone based lenses. They let more oxygen through to the eye. I've found them to be much, much more comfortable for extended wear than any other type of lens. I use CIBA Vision Night & Day 30 day continuous wear lenses, and I never even take them out for cleaning.

I have been wearing lenses (mostly continuous wear) for over 20 years, and these lenses are the only thing that have made me give up my desire for laser surgery.
posted by woj at 9:20 PM on November 8, 2005

Go back to Acuvue.
posted by caddis at 10:07 PM on November 8, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice so far. I've been wearing soft contacts lenses (various brands) for over 20 years with very few problems, apart from a couple of mild infections. I don't remember any such reaction on earlier brand switching, but this is the first time I've gone from a thin lens to a thick one, thus the oxygen starvation hypothesis.

I have also chnaged solutions recently, so I'll try my old brand again. And I'd love to get silicone lenses, but my optometrist says they won't be available until some time in 2006, so I'll work with these lenses -- which are awesome otherwise -- until then.
posted by maudlin at 10:30 PM on November 8, 2005

B+L makes a rinsing solution which is just for sensitive eyes; it's saline, touch of potassium, borate buffer, and just the least whisper of EDTA. I use it to rinse the 'safe-to-put-in-eye' solution off my lenses before it in fact gets in my eye; when I don't, I get the same symptoms you're describing.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:07 PM on November 8, 2005

Response by poster: Update: I finally was able to see my optometrist yesterday, and he says it's an infection. In his words "bacteria are having a party under your eyelids while you sleep, so that's why they look pink and criuty in the morning." I'm using OTC Polysporin eye drops for 5-7 days until this clears up.

It still seems really odd that I got an infection in both eyes the day after I switched to these new contacts, but I'll take my medication and go back to a cautious wearing schedule. I'm also looking for silicone bifocal lenses as soon as they come out some time in 2006.

Thanks for all the help!
posted by maudlin at 9:19 PM on November 16, 2005

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