Allergies are an abnormal response to a substance or chemical in your body. A small percentage of people develop allergies to certain contact lens solutions. These allergies can cause redness, discomfort, itching, and inflammation in your eyes.
Thimerosal, a preservative used in many contact lens solutions, was for a long time one of the leading causes of contact lens solution allergic reactions, eventually prompting contact-lens solution manufacturers to stop using it.
Other chemicals in these solutions can also cause reactions, however, and allergies to contact lens solutions may develop at any time, even after you have used the same contact lens products for months or years.
How You Can Treat Your Allergies
One alternative is to discontinue contact lens wear for a while. Another option is to use prescription eye drops to relieve the redness, inflammation, and discomfort caused by the allergies. Clean your contact lenses after each use to remove debris that may trigger an allergic reaction.
How to Prevent Allergies From Contact Lens Solutions
One helpful response to contact lens solution allergies may be to use products labeled “sensitive eyes” or “thimerosal-free.” Nowadays, most solutions are of this kind. Check all products to ensure that they do not contain chemicals that may be causing your allergies.
Your eye care practitioner may recommend that you see an allergist to determine what your specific allergies are.
You can also consider wearing daily disposable lenses in order to avoid the buildup of allergens on the lens surface and eliminate exposure to disinfecting solutions and lens cleaning products that may cause allergic reactions.
Still, if glasses are not an option for you, you may need to switch to preservative-free care products. Some of these have what’s called a “disappearing” preservative that’s gone before the solution comes into contact with your eyes.
Hydrogen peroxide systems are preservative-free. The neutralizing step eliminates the preservative and makes the solution less irritating to your eyes. Look for products that are preservative free, but have an expiration date.
Non-aerosol preservative-free saline will generally last about two weeks after opening. Also consider a type of Laser Refractive Surgery (LRS) such as LASIK.