Contact Lenses and Ocular Allergies – Can it be Done?

If 20 million people in the United States suffer from ocular allergies and a large number of these are contact lens wearers, there has to be a lot of people out there wondering how they can comfortably wear their contact lenses while allergies attack. Can it be done?

The bottom line, yes, but it takes some work and maybe even a little extra discomfort. Is it worth it? That’s up to you.  If you decide you need your contacts, there are some things you can do to make it more tolerable while you suffer through allergy season…

• The best treatment for ocular allergies, of course, is avoidance. But since that’s not always practical try these other tips…
• Wash hands consistently to avoid putting the allergen into your eyes if you accidentally rub them.
• Try to reduce the time you wear your contacts. Perhaps only wear them for social engagements or to work but take them out as soon as you return home.
• There is a wide variety of OTC and prescription eye drops to use with contacts, but consult with your eye doctor before doing so.
• Make sure you follow all medication directions. Usually you need to take your contacts out of your eyes, use the drops, then wait at least 10 minutes before reinserting the lenses into your eyes.
• Try once a day drops to reduce the amount of times you have to remove your lenses.
• Make sure you clean your lenses thoroughly at least once (but preferable more times) a day. This will wash any pollen or allergens off of your lenses, therefore keeping them out of your eyes.
• Don’t rub your eyes with your contacts in them; this will only make things worse.
• Know the side effects of your systemic allergy medications. Many decongestants and antihistamines dry the eyes out, since their job is drying. If this is the case, an eye lubricant would be beneficial, and these can usually be used with contact lenses in the eye.
• Make sure your contacts fit properly. An ill fitting lens will be more irritating and exacerbated by allergies.
• Along with cleaning your lenses properly and often, make sure you toss them and switch to new lenses often enough. You may need to wear each lens for a shorter time during allergy season since you’ll be cleaning them more and the allergens will be adding more wear and tear to them.
• Wear your glasses if you need to. Don’t let vanity take control. You may need to forego the lenses at some point while allergies are hitting hard to find relief.

Remember, consult with your doctor for your best individual plan. Everyone’s eyes are different, just like their allergies, and you will need an individualized plan with perhaps a combination of drops and medications to find the best relief for you.

Good sources for more info:,2933,269199,00.html

– Heather Legg

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