Contact Lens Intolerance: Do your eyes reject contact lenses?

22 February 2022

Author: Kate Green

contact lens intolerance

The pros and cons of contact lenses


Contact lenses are becoming increasingly common. We conducted research at Ultralase and found that over 37% of people rely on glasses or contact lenses by the age of 18. We also looked at people aged 50+ and found that over 86% of them require some form glasses or contact lenses. Across the UK as a whole, more than 4 million people wear contact lenses on a regular basis, and that number is increasing.


People tend to gravitate to contact lenses for a number of reasons, the primary one being cosmetic. Plenty of us find it difficult to adjust to how we look wearing glasses, so contact lenses are a way of achieving good vision without changing your appearance or style. They’re also great for occasions such as wearing sunglasses without having to rely on prescription shades, or for taking part in sports where you might have to wear a full helmet, like motorcycling.


However, there are cons to wearing contact lenses too. If you get water in your eyes while wearing contact lenses, there are dangers that come with the water-borne parasite, Acanthamoeba. This leads to a sight-threatening infection, Acanthamoeba keratitis. All cases require treatment and up to 20% of patients require a corneal transplant to restore good vision. As well as this, some contact lens wearers find that they suffer with persistent dryness and scratches to the cornea.


What is contact lens intolerance?


If you find that your eyes reject contact lenses, it’s possible that you are intolerant to them. This could manifest itself in a number of ways with potential symptoms like:

  • Corneal ulcers
  • Dry eyes
  • Itchiness in and around eyes
  • Red or bloodshot eyes
  • Stinging sensation
  • Eye pain


For some people, giving themselves a break from contact lenses before returning to them can help these symptoms. Others find that they can’t comfortably wear contact lenses at all. Contact lens intolerance can begin at any time in a contact lens wearer’s life, whether or not they have had issues with their contacts before.


What alternatives are there to contact lenses?


If you find yourself struggling to use contact lenses and you’re keen to avoid relying on glasses, then it’s likely that vision correction surgery is a good option for you. At Ultralase, we offer a range of treatments including laser eye surgery, implantable contact lenses, or lens exchange surgery.


Laser eye surgery is our most popular surgery due to its relatively quick recovery time and the fact that you can be in and out of the treatment room within ten minutes! If you’re short-sighted, we can treat prescriptions of up to -10, while if you’re long-sighted, we can treat prescriptions of up to +6. We offer two types of laser eye surgery, LASIK and LASEK, and you can read about the difference between them on our blog. The type of laser eye surgery you have will be recommended to you by one of our optometrists following a thorough examination of your eyes. It depends on a number of factors such as your corneal thickness, prescription and overall eye health.


Implantable contact lenses are a great option for people with stronger prescriptions, who may be unsuitable for laser eye surgery. They cater for short-sighted prescriptions of up to -20 and long-sighted prescriptions of up to +10. They can even be used for patients with an astigmatism as high as +6. At Ultralase, we use the EVO Visian ICL by STAAR which has numerous benefits including UV protection, improved night vision, and a reduced dry eye risk. Patients who have very dry eyes may not be suitable for laser treatment as a result, so we may recommend them for ICL surgery instead. The ICL treatment takes between 20-30 minutes and most of our patients are recovered within a couple of days after surgery. You can read more about ICL on our dedicated web page.


Patients aged 45+ tend to be more suitable for lens replacement surgery. This is because, depending on which type of lens you choose, lens replacement surgery gives you the opportunity to become completely glasses-free, not even needing reading glasses for close up work. Having replacement lenses also means that you cannot develop a cataract in the future. This is particularly beneficial for people in their mid-40s onwards, as cataracts can start to develop in your 40s and 50s. Lens replacement treatment effectively allows you to kill two birds with one stone and avoid having cataract surgery further down the line – whilst still correcting your vision now!


What are the next steps?


If you would like to find out more about vision correction options to help you live a life free from glasses and contact lenses, give us a call on 0800 988 6390. You can also send us an email to and we will be more than happy to help with any queries you have.

Back to Blog