Allergies are always a drag. Whether you suffer from springtime pollen, pet dander, or a year-round dust, you can relate to the common complaints: itchy, watery eyes, a stuffy, sneezing nose, irritating hives…the list goes on. That said, the signs and symptoms of allergies tend to be somewhat universal and thus, fairly easy to tell when you know what you’re looking for, right?
Red, irritated eyes for contact wearers are a common complaint—one we’ve talked about a lot on here actually. These symptoms should signal that a trip to the eye doctor is in your near future—perhaps an infection is setting in, or your contacts aren’t the correct fit. There are so many reasons to experience these pretty basic symptoms, especially if you’re one of those folks that don’t follow the care instructions for your lens, such as wearing them too long or not cleaning them properly. But if you seem to have a mysterious case of red, inflamed eyes, have you considered that you might just be allergic to you contact lens solution?
Symptoms of a Contact Solution Allergy
Being allergic to your contact lens solution is almost never obvious. For this reason, it’s not typically something your doctor will jump to as a first conclusion, because, as we already said, there are so many other reasons why your eyes might become irritated. Adding even further to the confusion, you might peacefully use a solution for several months before the allergy even sets in. So when eye trouble pops up, your solution is probably one of the last things you would consider as the culprit.
It’s important to remember that contact lens solution is made up from chemicals, which anyone can be sensitive to. Since they are applied daily, the allergy may build up slowly over time as your eyes are exposed to the chemicals more and more. If you are someone that already has a history of allergies or eczema, then your chances are even greater to experience an allergic reaction to a lens solution.
Making the situation even more mysterious, some folks can happily use the same solution for years without any problems, but find that after switching to a new contact material, an issue suddenly develops. In most cases, these folks have switched to a silicone hydrogel material (soft contact lens). This material combined with your regular contact lens solution can have a reaction that causes a sudden sensitivity in your eye, causing you to essentially have an allergic reaction. In these cases, you may have to simply switch back to a former lens material, or perhaps try a new solution that is less likely to cause a reaction with the new lens material.
What to Do if Your Eyes React
If you’re suffering from an allergic reaction due to your contact lens solution, don’t worry, there’s still hope for you! The first thing you may want to do is allow your eyes to chill out and revert back to your glasses until the discomfort and inflammation goes away. Then, consider trying a new solution that is specifically formulated for sensitive eyes, or one that is preservative-free. This will make the chances of you being allergic to them slimmer. Another option is to switch to daily disposables, which don’t require the use of solution to clean the lenses since you simply pop them in and then toss at the end of the day. This a particularly good option if you’ve already tried a few different contact lens solutions and aren’t getting any relief.