Contact Lens Allergy
In the United States alone, more than half the population (54.6%) suffers from at least one or more forms of allergy. Allergic symptoms caused by most allergens are invariably seen in the eyes. Itchy , red eyes with inflamed eye lids is a very common symptom.
The problem increases manifold for contact lens wearers.
Contact lens allergy
is a very common problem for people who opt to wear contact lenses over glasses.
Why do we experience Contact lens allergy?
Allergies are essentially an auto immune response of the body. The body sometimes reacts to the otherwise harmless protein in food or other environmental elements. The body produces an antibody called the IgE antibody. These antibodies react and bind with protein in the allergen. The body reacts to this event by producing large amounts of histamine. Histamine is the main culprit behind the adverse allergic reactions like redness, itchiness and inflammation in the eyes and eye lids.
The conjunctiva is exposed directly to the allergens. This is especially true for seasonal allergens. Unlike the nose where the cilia (nostrils) work as as a filter, the eyes are relatively unprotected.
What are the different sources of getting the said allergy?
The allergy could be caused by any one or a combination of the reasons below:
Allergy to Protein Deposits
Allergy to chemicals in the solution used for lubricating lenses and storing them.
Allergy to the materials the contact lens is made of.
Allergy to protein deposits:
Allergens, especially the seasonal ones like pollen or dust can be absorbed by the contact lenses and can stick to them.
The protein deposits on the lens can cause symptoms like redness, itchiness and inflammation.
Allergy to the contact lens solution:
Contact lens solution contains chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, benzyl alcohol, edetate disodium, polyaminopropyl biguanide, chlorohexidine gluconate. Many of them works as preservatives. A lot of individuals actually suffer from allergies which are actually reactions to the preservatives.
Allergy to the contact lens itself:
The contact lenses are mostly made of hydrogel polymers or silicone hydrogel. People allergic to silicone are found to react to contact lenses too.
Symptoms of the allergy
- Red, itchy eyes.
- Swollen eyelids.
- Burning sensation in eyes.
- Watering of eyes while wearing contact lenses.
Prevention of Contact lens allergy
- Maintain proper hygiene while handling and wearing lenses. Washing hands with soap and patting them dry with a clean towel is very important before you handle lenses.
- Clean the case meant for storing lenses regularly.
- Follow the instructions that come with your lens pack when it comes to cleaning and storing lenses.
- Wear glasses intermittently to reduce the symptoms.
- Artificial tear solutions can hydrate eyes and keep them moist. This might help to make the symptoms less intense.
- If the the allergies are from protein deposits then opting for daily disposable lenses can be a good idea.
- If the allergies are from the solution then it becomes imperative that you switch to a preservative free solution.
- If the allergies are from the lenses themselves then switching the brand may help.