Contact Lens Overwear Syndrome

If your contact lenses cause your eyes to appear red or feel dry, you are most likely overwearing your lenses.

If your contact lenses cause your eyes to appear red or feel dry, you are most likely overwearing your lenses.

Contact lenses are a popular way to correct vision without affecting one’s appearance or interfering with sports and other activities.

At the same time, contact lenses are in fact medical devices that come into contact with the surface of the eyes and need to be worn according to the recommendations of the manufacturer and your optometrist.


What is contact lens overwear syndrome?

Overwear is one of the most commonly reported problems related to contact lenses.

When you wear contact lenses longer than the prescribed amount of time, you risk developing contact lens related complications.

When contact lenses are used for an excessive period of time, they obstruct the oxygen absorption process. A correctly fitted contact lens worn for the appropriate time period floats on the eye’s surface, allowing enough of your tear film to flow underneath it and supply the cornea with vital oxygen.


Contact Lenses: What Can Go Wrong? -


To stay healthy, your eyes require oxygen. Since the cornea doesn’t have blood vessels, it must obtain oxygen from the atmosphere.

The contact lens acts as a barrier between the eye and the oxygenated tears, and an ‘old’ contact lens will reduce the flow of oxygen to the cornea.

In a continuous process, environmental oxygen enters your tear film and diffuses throughout your entire cornea. During the same process, carbon dioxide is emitted.

Is overwear common?

A large disconnect exists between perceived and actual compliance exhibited by contact lens users.


When asked about their lenswear and -care, around 85% of patients report good compliance, but upon further investigation, this is far from the truth.

The reality is that up to 50% of all contact lens wearers do not comply with their optometrist’s instructions.

Virtually all contact lens wearers surveyed reported at least one risky contact lens hygiene behavior.

The participation in potentially hazardous behaviors does not appear to be related to a lack of knowledge, as 80% of patients surveyed were aware of established risk factors, but still performed at least one high risk behavior.

Signs of contact lens overwear:

Over wearing contact lenses results in the lenses drying out and becoming misshapen, however the most concerning issue is the reduction in oxygen supply to your eyes.

Most common signs to look out for are:

       Red eyes

       Eyes feel irritated or dry

       Contact lenses don’t feel as comfortable

       New blood vessels in the whites of your eyes


New blood vessels on the white of your eyes are seen as a bloodshot eye, this is a sign that the cornea is in need of another source of oxygen.

If you experience any of these symptoms, remove your contact lenses from your eyes and contact us for an examination.