Hate Crimes Against My Eye
September 22, 2006 2:51 PM   Subscribe

My Bigoted Left Eye: Have you successfully treated your contact lens intolerance, and how?

After 18 years of blissful contact lens wear, I've developed an intolerance to contact lenses in my left eye. For the past three months, I haven't been able to wear contacts for more than a couple of hours without experiencing severe irritation. My left eye is usually red and sore for days after attempting to wear contacts.

I've been seeing an opthamologist, but I'm starting to run out of options. He feels the intolerance is caused by dry eye, but switching to more breathable, moisture-rich contacts hasn't helped. I had my tear ducts plugged earlier this week, but it hasn't helped. I'm running out of brands to try (my very strong prescription and steep cornea limit the kinds of contacts I can wear). Laser eye surgery is not a viable option for me financially, and for several reasons wearing glasses significantly impacts my quality of life.

If you've experienced lens intolerance, did you find anything that works? Are there other reasons I could have developed lens intolerance besides dryness?
posted by lunalaguna to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: BTW, I've tried several brands of saline solution, so that's not the problem, either.
posted by lunalaguna at 3:06 PM on September 22, 2006

Yowch. I have similar problems (diagnosed with dry eye syndrome, have very high myopia, can't bear glasses and am not a Lasik candidate.

I can recommend Genteal lubricant eye gel (at night, not in the day as it's filmy), which helps alot. I also went to a super duper contact lens fitter (I think he may have invented contacts or something) but that's here in New York City (Dr. Farkas). After a pricey checkup he recommended contacts that turned out to be extraordinarily comfortable (2Clear torics) -- but they were fitted especially for me. Worth every penny.

Finally, I urge you and EVERYONE to see a specialist at least one time. A few years ago I got an eye infection and while getting that easily treated, found out I had a torn retina AND impending glaucoma (fixed now, with laser and daily drops, respectively). I never would have known about either until it was too late. Hope this helps.
posted by kitmandu at 3:17 PM on September 22, 2006

I've worn rigid gas-permeable lenses for 20+ years and I developed an intolerance for awhile. First a doctor switched me to soft, then to a more breatheable soft when I grew all sorts of extra scary eyeball veins, and then I saw a new doctor. That doctor diagnosed me with a callous on my eye from having worn a slightly wrong size for too long. I went without a lens in that eye for a few months while it healed, and then I started up a new pair of smaller, better-fitted (rigid) lenses. That was 6 or so years ago and I haven't had problems since.
posted by xo at 3:32 PM on September 22, 2006

Just to add another voice/story... I started having the same problem after about 5 years of absolutely no problems with contacts, and was eventually (last year) diagnosed with "lumpy eye lids" (lovely, uh?). I was told it might be an allergy (to dust, pollen, make up, anything really - I never investigated in the end). [on preview: I went contact-less for years, so nothing healing-related]

That said, I also have dry eyes (even without contacts) and using eyedrops temporarily relieves the discomfort. Oh, and I never have a reaction as bad as the OP reports.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 3:41 PM on September 22, 2006

Have you moved to a new city or new house? Could be allergies to new environmental factors, or could be a new allergy to old environmental factors. If you're determined to wear contacts but are running out of eye-doctor options, you might try getting allergy testing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:47 PM on September 22, 2006

This happened to me when I was 18 and had a summer job mowing lawns. The word from the eye-doctor was that I had become sensitive to the proteins that my eye was creating on the contact lens. BUT, the reason there was a protein build-up was because I was allergic to my job. So, when the summer ended and the job did too, my eyes went back to normal. Are you using any new products on your face? Your hair? Any new pets? New carpet? New bed? New feather pillow? Or, even anything not-so-new, I've developed puffy-eye allergies to skin creams after using them for months. Vitamin E seems to be a trigger. You could also have developed an allergy to ALL solutions that the contacts are stored in, check with your doc first, but I have a friend that has to rinse hers in sterile water before she can put them in her eye.
posted by Eringatang at 5:59 PM on September 22, 2006

According to this article, "Dry eye affects more women than men because hormonal changes, such as those that occur in pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, can decrease tear production....Dry eye also can be caused by certain medications, including antihistamines, some antidepressants, birth control pills, nasal decongestants, and the prescription acne drug Accutane. And some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren's syndrome, can attack the tear glands."

In order to address some of the above possibilities, have you considered seeing an endocrinologist and/or a physician who specializes in autoimmune disorders?

Last but not least, does your diet include adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids?

Good luck, I hope you are able to find the right solution:-)
posted by invisible ink at 8:27 PM on September 22, 2006

Laser surgery can be much cheaper outside the United States. My father's friend took a vacation in Canada and had his eyes corrected via LASIK, for a fraction of the cost of the same procedure in the US. If changing products and plugging your ducts doesn't work, you may well benefit from reconsidering surgery.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:35 PM on September 22, 2006

I have terrible dry eyes in the morning and the only thing that helps are drops. I'm sometimes also really light-sensitive right before I go to bed, even just a 50 watt bulb.

I haven't found a way to get over my lumpy eyelid situation as of yet.

(ClarissaWAM- I sent you an email question regarding the lumpy eyelid thing because I have it too and it sucks.)
posted by np312 at 9:21 PM on September 22, 2006

Best answer: Did he check for GPC? I had it a few years ago-- a lot of the same symptoms you described. He can prescribe medicated eye drops to get rid of it.

Also, do you also feel tired more than usual? If so, your eyes might actually be making you feel more tired. (Don't know if this applies to all GPC sufferers, just myself, so YMMV).

Otherwise, for dry eyes I like Systane and Hypo-Tears .
posted by mynameismandab at 9:44 PM on September 22, 2006

Have you gone on the pill or changed brand on the pill? Or could anything else be causing female hormone changes? I had this problem when I briefly took the pill. Despite coming off it, I still had some problems with long wear. You can do things such as resting the affected eye from lens wearing, also avoid spending too much time using computers (staring at the screen can slow your blink rate), but the key to it for me was finding a really good specialist who had access to the very newest lenses to try. I too have severe myopia, but we still found something - so have hope!
posted by Flitcraft at 12:39 PM on September 23, 2006

Response by poster: To answer questions. No changes in my environment or products or medications I'm using. The reaction is only in my left eye, so I'm doubting it's allergies. I am, however, considering taking a break from BCP to see if that makes a difference. I should have noted that my eyes don't feel all that dry to me, and my opthamologist does not seem 100% certain dry eye is to blame. I don't have conjunctivis, and took a three-month break from contacts before trying new contact lens brands. Thanks for the feedback so far.
posted by lunalaguna at 5:20 PM on September 23, 2006

Response by poster: mynameismandab - Was the GPC visible to you? Could you actually see bumps under your eyelid?
posted by lunalaguna at 6:22 PM on September 23, 2006

I wore contacts for 7 years before I was unable to wear them anymore - the solution for me was to switch to daily disposables. While I hate the idea of everything being disposable, they are the only way I can wear contacts, and the price isn't that much worse than regular soft contact lenses.
posted by tastybrains at 10:14 AM on September 24, 2006

A drop or two of Opcon-A (an OTC eyedrop manufactured by Bausch & Lomb) in each eye every morning helps me wear contacts daily. However, this is my self-medicating solution; YMMV. I've worn soft contacts for 20 years, same brand (CIBA Focus Softcolors) with minimal problems. But as I've aged, it seems like I can tolerate them less.
posted by cass at 9:34 AM on September 25, 2006

Lunalaguna: No, I could not see it myself. The opthamologist did some tests to find it. A friend of mine said it might be GPC, so I specifically asked the doctor about it. You might have to ask about it by name to get it checked.
posted by mynameismandab at 10:32 AM on September 25, 2006

Response by poster: Went back to the doctor today, and I don't have GPC. He gave me Focus Day and Nights to try out and said that's about the last option he has for me.
posted by lunalaguna at 3:10 PM on September 26, 2006

Response by poster: For those keeping score, I started seeing a different eye doctor a couple of months ago. I do in fact have GPC and have been using drops. I found more suitable contacts, but it looks like I may need to have a procedure where the doctors actually scrapes off the deposits on my eyelids.
posted by lunalaguna at 7:48 AM on February 20, 2007

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