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Do Contact Lenses Cause pressure increase in eyes?

Updated on May 4, 2016

Contact lenses increase eye pressure,

This question was never on my mind until a year ago when my eye pressures mysteriously began to rise and my Ophthalmologist (not to be mistaken of an Optometrist) could not figure out why. Let me explain.

At a very young age I was diagnosed with Pigment dispersion syndrome. This is a rare eye disease that I was born with, but was not diagnosed until I was eleven years of age. My Optometrist discovered an ill regularity in the eye and recommended me to see an Ophthalmologist (eye specialist) in Columbus, Ohio. It was here I was diagnosed with Pigment dispersion syndrome. Pigment dispersion syndrome occurs when pigment granules that normally adhere to the back of the iris (this is the colored part of the eye), flakes off into the clear fluid produced in the eye, called the aqueous humor. When these granules flow toward the drainage canals of the eye, they slowly clog them and raise the eye pressure. This rise in eye pressure can damage the optic nerve. This is the main nerve in the back of the eye that carries visual images to the brain. If this happens, pigment dispersion syndrome becomes pigmentary glaucoma and then blindness.

I am now 48 years of age and up until last year my pressures have been maintained and controlled, and my nerve has been in perfect condition.

I am a constant contact wearer, they go in my eyes at 4:30 am and come out at 10:00 pm. I have always worn the soft contact lenses which allow airflow to the eye. But even with the regular contact lenses, I still had to wear reading glasses to view up close. Having to return to college due to recent life changing events I found that it was becoming a hassle to remember to bring glasses and then struggling to read the books I needed for assignments. So one day I noticed on television a pair of new contact lenses called multifocal lenses. Unlike most bifocal lenses the near sided lens was not just located at the bottom of the lens. Instead it was embedded throughout the entire lens allowing you to see up close and far away no matter what direction you had your eye in the lens. This was not just great for reading it was also great for my photography. (So I thought). Unfortunately this thought became my worst nightmare. When I first put them on, immediately my eyes felt pressure. It was if someone had my eyes in their hand and was squeezing. My Optometrist told me I would have to get use to them because they are a hard contact not a soft. But I didn't care, I could see without wearing glasses. Two weeks after I started wearing the multifocal I had to return to the optometrist to see how they were doing. My eyes still felt like they had a lot of pressure and for some reason my pressures in my eyes had increased. When I asked my Optometrist if it was the contact lens, I was told no.” Contacts won’t increase your pressures,” he said. A month went by and I went to see my Optometrist again to have a field test done and to check my pressures. The pressures had increased more and instead of him telling me to go see my specialist he suggested new medicine. This raised a red flag because my Optometrist does not change my medicine, My Ophthalmologist does. On top of that I asked again, “Is it the contact lenses”? He again said no. It is not possible. He told me my pressures were 21 in both eyes. I then decided to go see my Ophthalmologist it took me only a few days to get in to see her. Once I was there and she checked my pressures I was told that my pressures were 31 in the left eye and 36 in the right eye. My heart dropped. She asked me if I have had any changes in my life that may have caused this. Like different medicines I am taking that could interact with my eye drops. I told her the only thing I have changed is my contact lenses. Instead of a soft I am now wearing a hard lens. She said, “ That would not be it cause contact lenses will not increase pressures in the eye.” To make an already long story short, this is what ended up happening. For one year my Ophthalmologist searched frantically for an answer to why my pressures have increased. She changed my medicine twice and increased the dosage, and she even did laser surgery on the left eye, but still had no luck. Convinced it is the contact lenses, I started doing research on my own. Asking questions on the net, but received the same answer.” No it is not the contact lenses.” But I didn't give up. Something in my heart told me it was. Then one day I came across a research paper done by two scientists from Kansas State. A Khan JA, and Graham CE, These two did a research paper on “Effect of contact lens removal or displacement on intraocular pressure”. It was this research that told me that contact lenses do cause pressure increase in the eye. So I throughout the multifocal lenses and went back to my regular lenses and decided that wearing reading glasses was not that big of a deal. My return visit to see the Ophthalmologist was a great visit. My pressures had dropped to 21 and amazingly my eyes are now back to normal.

The multifocal lenses are a hard contact lens which does not allow air flow to the eye unlike the soft lenses that do. It puts a constant pressure against your eye and this constant pressure will actually cause pressure increase in the eyes. I suggest that those who wear contact lenses not just those who suffer from types of eye disease be very cautious when purchasing lenses. Make sure they are soft lenses and pay attention when you go to your Optometrist by monitoring your pressures. Just doing this will help you increase your overall eye health.

I would like to add that this article was written in 2014 and even though some contact lenses have improved there are those still on the market that are the same. I trust that when reading this article you keep in mind that not everyone has the same effect as I did with contact lenses and before throwing out those lenses you have your Optometrist/Ophthalmologist screen you on weather or not it is truly the lens causing the pressure increase.

Facts about lenses

contact lenses go directly on the surface of the eye.The only thing between a contact and the eye is the fluid the eye produces. Soft contact lenses are made to allow airflow through to the eye. This allows the eye to remain in its natural state by allowing airflow and fluid flow freely over the eye . If everything is flowing naturally the lens will correct the individuals vision. Contacts lenses of today work much like eye glasses by refracting and focusing light so that objects in view appear clear, however once that natural flow is disrupted, so is the ability to view objects clearly. Hard contact lenses such as multifocal lenses and biofocal lenses can abstract the natural flow of the eye. Because of the multiple prescription lenses interacting together. This does not allow the contact to release or constrict. placing pressure directly on the front of the eye and slowing down or completely stopping the fluids the eye produces. This in return with any other eye issues the person may have, will cause the pressures to increase.

Ask Yourself.

How often do you have your eye pressures tested?

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Is It Important To Get Your Eyes Checked?

According to The University of Utah, Moran Eye Center, People ages 20 to 30 should have an eye exam every two years. Unfortunately most individuals do not have their eyes checked unless they are having some kind of issue such as, blurred vision, pain, Injury, changes in vision and so on. But it is important to have them checked on a regular basis. Even if you only go once a year. At least have the pressures checked. People with diabetes are at risk for several eye disorders, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Some forms of glaucoma only appear after you reach a certain age.

YOUR EYES ARE IMPORTANT.

Top Facts

Your eyes are very important, Don't neglect them.

Get an eye exam twice a year

If you are a contact wearer and your eyes feel tired,are blurry or hazy, It could mean your contacts are old or you have dry eyes and need to re fluid them.

Pay attention to what your Optometrist and/or ophthalmologist say. both are experts in their own field and can help you maintain quality eye health.


Important Things To Remember

Unless you are born without your sight, you are more than likely depending on your eyes to get you through life. Here are some pointers I put together to help you take care of them and to be wise to who treats them.

  • Visit your Optometrist to get a check up. Make sure you have those pressures checked
  • If there is a problem with your pressures or the Optometrist tells you, you may have slight glaucoma see an Ophthalmologist. This is an eye specialist. They are trained to work with any type of eye disease and are considered an MD. Optometrist can detect the disease but they are mostly for corrective lenses and so on. They are not an MD. After all, you wouldn't take your child to see a veterinarian would you.
  • Most insurance will cover Specialist. Mainly because they are considered an MD, however most insurance will not cover treatment for glaucoma if an Optometrist is doing it. Because they do not have MD at the end of their name, insurance companies do not recognize them for treatment and will deny your claim. So unless you have a lot of money in a savings account. It may cost you anywhere from $75. to $200 out of your own pocket to cover the expenses.

No Matter Your Age.

OUR EYES ARE THE WINDOW TO THIS WORLD

Our eyes are argumentatively the most important sense we have. It is our path through sight that mold us from the time we are born to the time we die. Most humans use sight to learn by and to teach by. Even if we are blind we still see in our minds, shapes, colors and objects. It is through site the hearing impaired learn to read and colors effect our emotions. So many people take their sight for granted. But it is sight that show us were we have been and were we are going. Taken care of them is our way of protecting our future.

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    Waya Jameson 3 years ago

    Very informative and well put together. It's horrible that you went through all of this but KUDOS to you for staying strong and searching it out yourself. Unfortunately, anymore it seems the patients are doing the doctors job and finding out the answers to our health needs. I'm glad you are doing much better now. I am also proud to have a cousin that cares enough to share this with the world. Many blessings to you.

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    Paula Matney 3 years ago

    This information was very helpful and under standing. It also answered a lot of questions,when it comes to the eyes. Thank you Samantha,so sorry you had to go through all that you did,to find out for yourself that it was your contacts causing you so much trouble.

  • Jack Aylor profile image

    Jack Aylor 3 years ago from Wayne, West Virginia

    The eyes are the window to the world..such a statement couldn't be more true. thank you Samantha for this information.

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