By Dr. Richard Barnstein
What are the best ways to wear contact lenses if someone has a history of allergies and
different types of allergic conjunctivitis, like Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis? (GPC) I see many patients with allergic conjunctivitis. The Baltimore area in recent years has had some pollen levels off the charts! (Check out Pollen.com, where you can type in your zip code and get some valuable information on the pollen levels in your area.) Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis can include itching, watery eyes, and a white stringy discharge. One of the more bothersome complications for contact lens wear patients with allergies is Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis. Also known as GPC, this allergy related condition causes bumps underneath the upper lid. While a contact lens is considered a medical device, in simple terms it’s still a foreign body in the eye. When the upper lid blinks over that contact lens thousands of times a day, these bumps from GPC rub against the contact, causing discomfort, irritation, and even a stickiness, where the bumps under the lids can drag the contact lens out of place. If someone wears a monthly type of disposable contact lens, there are some great peroxide based solutions like Clearcare that clean the surface of the lens to maximize comfort and minimize protein and pollen related buildup. When patients ask me about eye allergies and contact lens wear, I usually explain that the healthiest way to wear contact lenses is with a daily disposable or one day contact lens. Each day that a contact lens wearer puts in a one day contact lens, it’s a clean, crisp, sterile contact lens, that goes from the blister pack, to your eye, and then to the trash, every time it’s worn. This means the contact lens surface has minimal time to build up protein, and other allergy related issues that stick on the lens, where it can lead to an aggravated, unhappy contact lens wearer. Plus, the one day disposable contact lenses are usually thinner and more comfortable than 2 week to monthly type of disposable lenses. I fit most of my patients in one day lenses. Of my patients that wear one day contact lenses, at least 95% stay in the lens a year later, as a testament to their level of satisfaction with the one day disposable lenses. Furthermore, one day disposable contact lenses come in astigmatism, and even multifocal designs. If you have had trouble wearing contacts comfortably, feel free to “contact” me if you have any questions about how daily disposables might be a good choice for you.
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