Contact Lenses and Allergy

contact lens

Are you a contact lens wearer?  Do you suffer from seasonal allergies?  If so, you know what a hassle it is to comfortably wear your lenses during the allergy seasons.  For contact lenses to be comfortable, they need to be clean, and free of any particles or contaminants that might harm the health of the eye.  On a regular basis this is challenging enough.  During allergy season, however, this becomes a nearly impossible task.

During allergy season, the air contains a large amount of airborne protein particles called “allergens”.  The allergens tend to be very light and can therefore stay airborne for long periods of time.  These allergens can easily come in contact with the eye, especially on windy, dry days.  Examples of allergens would include the pollens released by trees and grass.  In the northeast part of the country, the trees tend to pollinate first in early spring, releasing large amounts of pollen in the air.  Later in the spring, and in the early summer, the grasses tend to pollinate.  In the fall, it is ragweed and other fall weeds which pollinate.

During these months, when outdoors, it is very easy for the eyes to come in contact with these pollens.  Though our eyes protect themselves by forming a tear film and blinking, contact of the pollen particles on the surface of contact lenses can cause damage to the lenses.  Over time this can limit the usable life of the lenses.

It has been recommended that perhaps switching to daily-wear lenses during allergy season can help combat the problem with seasonal allergens. Another approach that can be useful is to wear sunglasses specifically designed to help protect the eyes against airborne particles.  Sunglasses with a wrap-around style, ideally with a gasket to add extra protection, should be considered by those who wear contact lenses and suffer from seasonal allergies.

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