Possible contact lens complications

Wearing contact lenses is a reasonable method of attaining good vision as an alternative to glasses. However, wearing contact lenses is not without risk. The following conditions are possible complications of contact lens wear. You must be aware of the potential hazards and accept these relative risks in addition to the benefits of contact lens wear.

Potential hazards and risks

Corneal abrasion

This is a “scratch” on the surface of your cornea resulting from a poorly-fitting contact lens, foreign material under the contact lens, or overwear. The treatments include antibiotics and possible patching of your eye. Infection may result from this condition.

Allergic reaction

In this condition, your eye becomes red and irritated in response to the cleaning and/or storage solution. It is most often seen with soft contact lenses and is usually a reaction to the preservatives in your solution. Treatment includes changing to a different solution and storage method as directed by your eye care professional.


When the eye has a lack of oxygen to the surface, blood vessels may grow into you cornea. This is rare with new highly oxygenated materials. Your doctor will look for this at every visit.

Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC)

In this condition, there is itching, lens intolerance and redness while wearing your contact lens. Treatments include discontinuing lens wear for a period of time, switching lens types, switching solutions and application of lid hygiene.

Corneal ulcer

This is the most severe complication of contact lens wear. In this condition trauma or contamination to your cornea from the contact lens, results in an infection. This may require hospitalization for treatment and can lead to extensive corneal scarring. Corneal transplant surgery may be required to regain good vision. Although very rare, it is possible that you could lose an eye from a severe corneal ulcer.

It is not possible to determine in advance whether you will become a successful contact lens wearer. Personal, physiological and environmental factors may require changes in your wearing schedule or termination of your lens wear. Please keep your glasses prescription up to date in case you are unable to wear your lenses.

What you should do every day

When you are wearing your contact lenses, check every day and ask:

  1. Do my eyes look good?
  2. Do my eyes feel good?
  3. Do my eyes see well?

If you experience redness, secretion, visual blurring or pain (RSVP), remove your contact lens at once. If the symptom subsides, the lens can be cleaned and reinserted. If the lens is removed and the symptom does not subside or reappears upon reinsertion, remove the lens immediately and call us!

Take care when traveling

Many people relax their usual hygiene routines when they travel. Make sure that you have enough solution, a clean case and spare pair of glasses whenever you travel.

If there is a problem, don’t wait until you get home - see an eyecare practitioner as soon as possible.

Follow-up appointments

Contact lens fitting requires a number of follow-up visits (two to three visits in the first three months). These visits are very important to ensure the proper fit of your lens and the health of your eye. Please keep all appointments made for you.

Contact lens appointments are recommended every 6-12 months and are mandatory for prescription refill.

A contact lens prescription does not exist until the doctor deems your lens fit acceptable after several checks during follow-up care. After you have been released from initial follow-up care, you will be given a copy of your contact lens prescription.

Your cooperation is vital to your success in wearing contact lenses.

Contact lenses should always be worn to your appointment. What your eye care provider wants to see, is how your lens fits after you have been wearing it for an hour or more, to make sure the fit doesn’t change after you have worn it for a while. However, if you are experiencing major discomfort, don’t wear your contact, but bring it with you.

Contact lenses require proper care and handling. You must follow all instructions in caring for and handling your lenses. Failure to do so could damage your lenses. Lost, damaged or contaminated lenses will not be replaced free of charge. How frequently your contacts are replaced will be determined by your eye care provider.

Last reviewed: 
September 2015

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