Contact Lenses and Eye Allergies

Eye allergy sufferers may fantasize about one day wearing contacts—without discomfort. But you may not be too hopeful, and for good reason.

According to the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the eye allergy discomfort respondents experience is enough to discourage almost half of them from wearing their contacts during allergy season. Further, a little over ten percent of the group reported giving up on their contacts completely due to their allergy eye symptoms and the misery they cause.

When Eye Allergy Symptoms and Contacts Go Bad

If you want to know more about why contact lenses and eye allergy symptoms can be such a bad combination, consider this: When you have an allergy eye episode and then you insert a contact lens, the pollen or other allergen that's irritating your eye can get trapped under the lens, making you feel even worse than you did. Then every time you put the same contact back in, it can contain some of the allergen and cause further distress to this sensitive area.

You don't have to repeat this cycle again and again, though, nor do you have to give up on wearing contacts. Some allergists and eye specialists say that you just need to pick the right type of lenses and be sure to take proper care of them.

Tips to Help You Weather Eye Allergy Symptoms

  • Be conscious of how often you clean and /or change your contacts. This is important to keep them free of allergen build up.
  • Opt for daily disposable lenses to avoid further eye irritation, since these will be fresh and clean every time you put them in.
  • If you have reusable contacts, soak them in contact solution to remove as much residue as you can.
  • Use rewetting drops as needed to keep your eyes from becoming dry and irritated while your contacts are in.
  • Select a contact lens solution that's made especially for sensitive eyes. Read the label to find one that doesn't have preservatives in it.
  • Follow the recommended schedule for cleaning and replacing lenses.

Other Helpful Tips

In addition to making your contact lens manageable with an eye allergy, take these basic steps to help keep your eyes allergy-free:

  • Wear sunglasses to keep pollen and other triggers from getting into your eyes.
  • Wash your face or shower after spending time outdoors to remove any allergens lingering on your skin and/or hair.
  • Avoid touching your eyes.
  • Use a cold cloth on your eyes to relieve swelling and discomfort on days when your eye allergy symptoms flare.
  • Get relief for itching, uncomfortable allergy eye symptoms with over-the-counter or prescription eye drops.

For more information about weathering your eye allergies with as little distress as possible, talk to your allergist or eye doctor. She can provide other suggestions personalized to your specific situation so you wear your contact lenses comfortably all year long.


Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)

The University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center