Contact Lens Overwear

Contact lenses are a magnificent method of vision rectification and are a great option to spectacles, yet patients should keep in mind that they are also clinical gadgets. Similar to other medical or clinical treatments, usage of these items may run the risk of complications or undesired conditions.

Most contact lens-related problems include either diminished oxygen levels getting to the cornea or hygiene issues with the lens. By sticking to the recommended usage, replacement and cleaning guidelines, contact lens wearers can effectively avoid complications in most cases.

Complications brought about by a reduction in oxygen flow to the cornea can bring a loss in corneal sensitivity, and may result in the inability for the patient to feel foreign objects under the lens. Other complications that are brought about by inadequate lens care and poor cleaning habits can result in a higher risk of eye diseases and infection; a few such cases can be serious, and may even lead to loss of vision.

People who wear contact lenses daily for a prolonged length of time (years) are liable to contract Contact Lens Overwear syndrome, which shows up as signs of chronic eye redness, itching, pain, dry eyes, intolerance of contact lenses and blurring of vision. Any inadvertent injury to the cornea then leads to poor corneal healing or scarring.

Causes of Overwear

The term “Contact Lens Overwear Syndrome” is pretty much self-explanatory. It is the condition at which a person suffers from when they use their contact lenses excessively. This can arise from events such as falling asleep with lenses that are not meant for extended use on, or using the contact lens for too many hours each day.

The underlying reason for the overwear condition to happen is actually due to the cornea receiving reduced amounts of oxygen from the atmosphere around it. The tear film between the lens and the eye also tends to stay stagnant since the lens prevents contact with the eyelid above it while blinking.

Other factors may exacerbate the contact lens overwear syndrome, such as computer vision or dry eyes and cause a worsening of overwear symptoms.

Though technological advancements have led to improvements in contact lens materials over the years, it is still not enough to completely eradicate contact lens overwear syndrome. This is simply because every person is different, and some patients have corneas that are more sensitive to decreases in oxygen levels than others.

Symptoms of Contact Lens Overwear Syndrome

The first telltale sign of Contact Lens Overwear Syndrome patients often notice is a redness and swelling of the eyes. What is actually happening here is a combination of corneal inflammation (keratitis), corneal edema (swelling of the cornea) and the conjunctiva (a transparent skin layer found on the whites of the eyes) becoming red and swollen. Eyelids may then swell and you may find yourself more sensitive to light.

When the cornea becomes swollen, it also clouds up. This will have an effect on your vision and you may find your sight to be cloudy or blurred.

Eye Assessment

If you are a chronic contact lens user (more than 10 – 20 years), you may want to get your eyes checked for signs of contact lens overwear.

Treatment of Contact Lens Overwear Syndrome

Upon diagnosing contact lens overwear syndrome, the first and most important step in the treatment would be to simply stop all usage of contact lens. This will continue until all symptoms have subsided.

Once contact lens wear has been suspended, the eyes (or more specifically, the cornea) starts to repair itself over the next few days or week. During this time, the eye specialist should recommend switching the type of contact lenses the patient is currently using. Newer types of contact lenses can have close to no barrier to the flow of oxygen to the cornea. These types of materials with high oxygen permeability will greatly help in avoiding the recurrence of overwear syndrome. Dailies are often recommended.

Patients who have experienced overwear syndrome should be careful with their contact lens usage and form strong habits for removing their contacts where possible. Avoid falling asleep in your contact lenses if you can help it, and always remove them before going to bed, even if it’s just for a short nap.

Thankfully, having to stop all use of contact lens after a case of overwear syndrome is virtually unheard of, especially with the advancements in technology in the manufacture of contact lens.

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