Left eye woes
May 22, 2017 7:39 AM   Subscribe

I have worn contacts daily for 15 years and had the same brand of lenses for a few years (Air Optix). Within the last few months, however, I have noticed that my left eye -- and only my left eye -- gets irritated after a few hours of contact wear. It will get red and the lens seems to be loosely shifting back and forth. And the morning after contact use, my left eye will be crusty and feel generally strained. I have thrown away more than 5 or 6 contacts because I thought that the lens may be the problem. But this pain/redness happens with new lenses too. I have gone to my eye doctor twice to discuss this issue. She examined my eye and said it was healthy and that maybe dryness was causing the irritation. Upon her suggestion, I started to use Systane Ultra eyedrops but every time I try my contacts, I have the same issue again. I used to wear contacts daily but now I am stuck with my glasses. I have tried warm compresses, cold compresses, opening a new pair of lenses, trying to wear contacts only if its humid, giving my eye a long break between contact wear. I am at a loss. Have you fixed your eye woes? Am I doing something wrong?
posted by allthingsconsidered to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of eye doctor did you see? An optometrist is different than an ophthalmologist. Time for a second opinion, I think.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:48 AM on May 22, 2017 [6 favorites]

I switched to kinda expensive dailies, and my weird dry problems improved by about 80%. Still have moments of irritation but it's drastically better. I use the Total Dailies and two different optometrists have said they have better levels of moisture than other lenses. No idea if that's empirically true, but I've tried ~8 or 10 brands and prefer these by far.
posted by barnone at 7:50 AM on May 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't wear contacts and haven't tried them yet because I get severe seasonal eye allergies. Hence why I haven't rushed to contacts yet. This sounds like my allergy eyes - called allergic conjunctivitis. See an ophthalmologist so they can examine your eye for inflammation and/or try some allergy drops - the 12 hour kind and chat with a doctor. I get eye symptoms often without nasal symptoms. Sometimes they hurt more than they itch.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:54 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another Total Dailies convert here - I can say without too much hyperbole they were life changing. In the past, even with a new lens (I wore 2-week versions of the Acuvue) I'd barely make it through work and have to take them out as soon as I got home - Now, I almost never wear my glasses as I can wear Total Dailies from wake up to bed time with almost no dryness or fatigue - As noted, they aren't cheap, but I can't imagine using any other brand.
posted by jalexei at 7:58 AM on May 22, 2017

I went through dry eye problems when I wore contacts (also Air Optix, which I loved) and ultimately the solution came down to punctal plugs (administered by an ophthalmologist); Refresh Optive lubricant eye gel; cutting back on coffee (I was up to the equivalent of four cups a day); and, drinking more water. I also used Restasis for a while but I never found it particularly helpful or worth the added expense.

Hope you find a solution. I remember how frustrating it was for me after having worn contacts for so long without a problem.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:02 AM on May 22, 2017

Since the problem is only in your left eye, I wonder if it's something in your environment instead. Do you drive with your left window down? It's pollen season in some places now, and your driver-side eye might be getting the brunt of it. Do you sleep mostly on one side? Is your work desk oriented in such a way that your left eye would be exposed to more wind or more sun?

Some kind of infection seems possible too. If none of the above rings any bells, I'd get a second opinion (from an ophthalmologist, not an optometrist, as suggested above).
posted by danceswithlight at 8:20 AM on May 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

I've been wearing contacts since I was 15. I started having a similar problems around 2006 (I was 26 then) when I was living in Korea. I have pretty bad seasonal allergies but while I was there my eyes started getting EXTREMELY irritated, alternating between watering nonstop, feeling like I had fuzz or sand under my contacts, and then feeling like my contacts were all "sticky" if that makes sense. Removing the contacts and switching to glasses helped, but I have a kind of lifestyle where glasses are really, really inconvenient. The thing is, I had a whole other host of medical issues in Korea (for example, MY HAIR FELL OUT!) and narrowing down what might be causing the reactions was impossibel because literally everything was new to me.

Eventually I read that my contacts, Acuvue Oasys, were notorious for causing allergic reactions in people. Once I got back to Houston i visited my eye doctor who switched me to Air Optix Night and Day. I was fine for a while.

However, a couple of years ago the issues started again. And in fact, I have an appointment later today to talk to her about it. In my research I have read that women are more prone to dry eye syndrome, so you might look into that, as well as the possibility that you might be allergic to your lenses. I never even considered that a possibility.

I'll follow up if I hear anything of note form my own doc.
posted by Brittanie at 8:23 AM on May 22, 2017

Thanks, all. I am getting a second opinion with an ophthalmologist on Wednesday. I recently moved to this city and was told by my first doctor that the climate/seasonal allergies may be affecting the eye. But I hate wearing glasses more than I dislike going to the doctor so I think the wisest solution is to get a second opinion!
posted by allthingsconsidered at 8:46 AM on May 22, 2017

Where I am, California, the torrential winter rains have generated one of the worst pollen years in decades. Also one of the best wildflower (and weed) years.
posted by puddledork at 9:14 AM on May 22, 2017

It sounds like an infection to me...I had something similar when I didn't change my contacts enough. I had to use antibiotic eye drops and glasses only for a few weeks and then it cleared up. Also, do you wear makeup? If so, might be worth tossing any eye makeup and replacing wth new, as that could be the source of infection. Good to get a second opinion form your eye doc!
posted by stillmoving at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2017

I developed an allergy not to my contacts, but to the cleaning solution, with reactions similar to yours. I switched to dailies, problem gone.
posted by Malla at 10:48 AM on May 22, 2017

Perhaps the shape of your left eye has changed slightly? It sounds like it could be a problem of fit.

I will say that switching to dailies solved 90% of my own comfort issues.
posted by praemunire at 11:39 AM on May 22, 2017

I have this, I have been checked out by optometrists and opthamologists and allergists and their response was, "Nothing's wrong. You just have one mutinous eye. It happens." Dailies is the only thing that helps me deal (though I have to buy extra for my left eye since it's the problem child.)
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:54 PM on May 22, 2017

So apparently my upper eyelid glands are clogged which means I'm not created tears in the correct way. Got an Rx for Restylane and we'll see how it goes.
posted by Brittanie at 3:00 PM on May 22, 2017

Hi, I went through a similar issue last May - Air Optix for 10 years, left eye, and wound up with a red ring around the iris after wearing the contacts. This progressed into what seemed like repetitive pink eye, and intense sensitivity to bright lights

Optometrist sent me to a specialist, and they found that essentially, the contacts had worn down into my cornea, (like a rope around a tree trunk).

The solution was to stop wearing the contacts period, and allow the cornea time to regrow. It's been about a year of straight glasses.... I am almost ready for my next appointment, at which time I anticipate that they will propose a new shape/size of contacts (if possible).

long story short, leave the contacts out until you've confirmed whether there's any corneal damage. And I'm sorry we're both going through this, I feel very unpretty in my glasses - ah, vanity!
posted by NorthernAutumn at 7:04 PM on May 22, 2017

A few years ago I started having trouble wearing contacts after two decades of problem-free wear. Lots of redness, dryness, pain and other yucky pink-eye-like symptoms. The problem turned out to be the cleaning product I was using (Opti-Free). My opthalmologist told me that these one-step, all-purpose cleaning solutions are really harsh, and that using them is like squirting a bottle of detergent in your eye. They break down the lipid layers on the surface of your eye and make you prone to irritation. I switched to a hydrogen-peroxide cleaner (I use ClearCare) and a preservative-free saline (Unisol) and was instantly cured.
posted by 826628 at 4:31 AM on May 23, 2017

When Acuvue Oasys changed their formulation, I developed exactly these symptoms. My doc at the time pronounced me with dry eye, put me on expensive drops, insisted I couldn't be allergic to the lens, etc.

A year later, after wearing glasses a lot and being miserable, I switched eye doctors. The new one immediately said, "you're probably allergic to that lens" put me in Total Dailies took me off the expensive drops and all is well now. So don't count out switching lenses, even if you've been in the same ones for a while.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 9:34 AM on May 23, 2017

« Older Getting in Shape with Chronic Illness   |   Simple Facebook content harvesting Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.