Managing Discomfort in Contact Lenses

Jan 17, 2019
2 min read

Managing discomfort in contact lenses is as an art and a science. Sometimes, we must dig far deeper than ocular surface issues and look at refractive error.

Discomfort is the prevailing reason why many patients are opting to drop out of contact lens wear, and managing discomfort in contact lenses rests on our shoulders as eyecare professionals.

While it is easy to blame the ocular surface or dryness for discomfort issues, optometrists know that treating surface level issues is a great first step, but sometimes does not remedy all of the problems.

When managing discomfort in contact lenses, if treatment at the level of the ocular surface aren’t working, it is up to us as eyecare professionals to consider other things that may be causing discomfort in our contact lens wearers.

In order to do this, we have to consider the entire visual system and not just the ocular surface when observing symptoms like dryness. By considering vision first and foremost, you can get to the root of the problem.

For example, correcting astigmatism, no matter how small, even if it is at a point where a patient is not complaining is critical. Early management can prevent further discomfort!

Along this same vein, ensuring you are correcting their overall refractive errors while not over minusing the patient, or considering whether there is a plus you can remove from the prescription may also help.

Patients may describe that their contact lens doesn’t feel right for their eye, but as optometrists, we have a responsibility to take primary care optometry a step further and get to the root of their lens discomfort.

Here’s a 36 page guide on understanding dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction. Learn how you can treat MGD using LipiFlow, and how to bring this technology to your practice.

About Erin Rueff, OD

Dr. Erin Rueff received her Doctor of Optometry degree from The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Optometry. Upon graduation, she completed the Cornea and Contact Lens Advanced Practice Fellowship at OSU. After fellowship, she continued at OSU as a clinical instructor and completed a PhD in Vision Science. In 2018, she joined the faculty at the Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University. Dr. Rueff’s research interests include contact lens discomfort and compliance. She enjoys teaching students in the clinic and classroom on contact lens and general optometry topics. Her clinical interests include multifocals, gas permeable and scleral contact lenses, keratoconus, and dry eye.