Can You Be Allergic to Contact Lens Solution?


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.

Clear Care Contact Lens Solution Linked to Burning and Redness

Many consumers turn to Clear Care contact lens solution for the disinfecting, sterilization, and storage of contact lenses.  This product claims to be effective, easy to use, and gentle on the eyes.  Reviews of this product, however, have been quite mixed – the negative reviews claiming this product to be harsh and hazardous.  Therefore, users of this solution beware – and be sure to read the instructions carefully and thoroughly before using this product.

amo-lens-solution-recallIn the past, however, what the front label lacked what the proper warnings about the dangers of using this contact lens solution improperly.  There have been over 110 complaints to the Food and Drug Administration about Clear Care burning and irritating the eyes.  While minor label changes have been made in attempt to warn consumers, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a non-profit medication safety association, claims that these changes are not sufficient in giving the proper warning to the consumer.  Members of this association have been lobbying for more drastic changes to be made for sometime – as complaints continue to flow in, many at a time. 

Clear Care contact lens solution comes with a special contact lens case containing a metal ring that neutralizes the solution in six hours. The contact lenses should not be used with Clear Care solution in a normal, everyday lens storage case.  The consumer should not place the solution directly in the eye, and must keep lenses in the solution for no less than six hours. 

Officials at Ciba Vision, the company that produces Clear Care, along with the Food and Drug Administration, state with certainty that the warning labels have been recently changed and are now adequate enough to communicate the dangers of improper use of this product.  The label now predominantly displays the hydrogen peroxide content, along with warnings of possible burning or irritation.

9539429998_9d67280635_zDespite these changes that have been made, reports of severe burning and pain are continuing to come in.  The pain that comes with improper use is alarming and excruciating.  Consumers have claimed to experience searing pain and irritation that feels like the eye is on fire.  This pain and discomfort, even after washing out the eye, may last for several days.  One person claimed that the pain was worse than scratching the cornea.

While it should go without saying, the consumer should read the labels and instructions properly before using certain products – especially something that is going to be used in the eyes.  While the labels of Clear Care solution do give warnings and instructions of proper use on the label, some people continue to use it improperly.  The issue is that this solution is not meant to be used as your everyday cleaning solution.  It is for overnight use only.  Many people just assume that it can be used as a normal solution, and that is where the trouble lies.  The solution to this not-so-clear solution may be even more predominant warnings on the label, making it obvious to anyone who picks up a bottle of Clear Care contact lens solution that this is not a normal, everyday rinsing solution, and to use with caution.

If nightly cleaning your contacts in solution is unappealing, consider switching to a Dailies Aquacomfort Plus or Acuvue 1 Day Moist. Crafted to be replaced daily, these contact lenses are tossed at night instead of being submerged in contact solution.