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Why Do Contacts Hurt My Eyes?

Contact lens discomfort is a symptom that something is wrong, and you should always take it seriously.

Eye pain from contact lens wear is particularly worrisome, because it may mean you are developing a contact lens-related eye infection or other serious problem.

If you develop sudden eye pain when wearing contact lenses or your contacts hurt, follow these steps:

Step One: Remove And Clean The Contact Lens

If one of your contacts hurts, remove the bothersome lens and rinse it thoroughly with multipurpose contact lens solution. Also, rinse your eye with sterile saline, and/or apply lubricating eye drops that are approved for use with contact lenses. Then reinsert the contact lens.

If the contact feels perfectly comfortable, it's likely something such as an eyelash was caught under the lens and this was causing the discomfort.

But to be sure, remove the contact lens again. If you have eye pain when the lens is removed, you may have a corneal abrasion or other eye problem that may need immediate attention. If this is the case, skip Step Two and proceed immediately to Step Three below.

If you have no eye discomfort after removing the contact lens, but the contact hurts after rinsing and reinserting it, proceed to Step Two.

Step Two: Inspect The Contact Lens

Sometimes, a contact lens deposit or a partially torn contact lens can cause sudden eye discomfort.

If your eye still hurts after cleaning and reinserting the contact lens as described in Step One above, remove the lens again and carefully inspect it. If something appears adhered to the lens surface or the lens is partially torn, discard it and replace it with a new one.

If the new lens feels perfectly comfortable, the discomfort likely was due to the lens deposit or defect.

But if the new contact hurts, proceed to Step Three:

Step Three: Remove Your Contacts And Visit Your Eye Doctor

If your eye hurts after removing the contact lens or after replacing it with a new one, remove both contacts, put on your eyeglasses and immediately call your eye doctor to schedule an emergency eye exam.

It is possible you have a serious contact lens-related eye problem, such as a corneal abrasion, a fungal eye infection or even a corneal ulcer. With any of these problems, your eye may also be sensitive to light and watery.

Be sure to tell the doctor's office that you are experiencing eye discomfort and that you want to be seen as soon as possible.

If it turns out an eye infection or other serious problem is why your contacts hurt your eyes, the sooner you are seen and receive medical treatment, the less risk you have of permanent vision loss.

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Dr. Gary HeitingAbout the Author: Gary Heiting, OD, is senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 25 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear industry. His special interests include contact lenses, nutrition and preventive vision care.

Page updated August 2017