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Is It Normal for Contact Lenses to Burn?

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The eyes are windows to the world and thus require protection and care to function properly. Contact lenses, for vision correction, are the go-to for millions of people every day because they are convenient, comfortable, and can provide clearer vision than eyeglasses. 

Contact lens exams and fittings can ensure contact lenses are right for you, help determine the proper fit, and safeguard your sight. Occasionally, however, whether you are new to contacts or a seasoned wearer, you may experience irritation or a burning sensation. Why is this, and is it normal? 

Keep reading to learn more about contact lenses, care, and what to do if your contact lenses burn. 

Contact Lenses

Let’s get one thing out in the open: Contact lenses should be comfortable to wear. If it’s your first time, it can take some adjusting. But after wearing them for some time, you can even forget they’re in your eyes. 

Precise measurements of the eyes help determine the lens material and brand right for your eyes. With proper fitting, care, and handling instructions, you can expect clear vision with minimal signs or symptoms of discomfort. However, if you do experience a burning sensation, it’s not normal. 

Reasons Why Your Contact Lenses Burn

The reasons why your contact lenses burn are generally related to hygiene, storage, or usage.

#1: Hand Washing

Thorough hand washing before inserting and removing contacts can prevent contamination. Soap and lotion residue or sanitizer can also cause burning. Particles from a towel can also stick to your lenses. Using a mild soap and lint-free towel can prevent this. 

#2: Cleaning Contact Lenses

Contact lenses can accumulate protein deposits and debris over time, even with cleaning. Dust, lint, makeup, and exposure to perfume or hair products can transfer to contacts and cause irritation and burning. Remove the contact lenses and rinse with a clean solution and reinsert. 

#3: Contact Lens Solution

Burning may result from a sensitivity to the contact lens solution. Preservatives or other ingredients in the solution can cause an allergic reaction. Always use the recommended solution for the contact lens type or ask your eye doctor for an alternative. 

Using old solutions or topping up can also affect the liquid’s ability to kill germs. Always discard used solutions, clean and dry the contact lens case often, and add a new solution every time. 

#4: Allergies

Contact lenses can attract airborne allergens making seasonal allergies and symptoms worse. Reducing contact lens wear, switching to daily disposables, and using eye drops can help increase contact lens comfort.

#5: Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can cause a burning and stinging sensation in the eyes, making contact lens wear uncomfortable. You don’t have to give up wearing contacts if you have dry eyes. Your eye doctor can recommend lubricating eye drops or a different type of contact lens material. 

#6: Infection

Burning can be from a contact lens-related infection. There is a higher risk of developing keratitis or inflammation of the cornea with contact lens wear. Causes include extended-wear lenses, sleeping in contact lenses, microbe build-up under the lens, or topping lens solution. 

#7: Quality, Fit, & Length of Wear

Contact lenses can burn if you:

  • Wear low-quality contact lenses
  • Wear poorly fitted contact lenses
  • Wear them longer than you are supposed to or past the expiration date

#8: Damaged Contacts

Damaged contact lenses or prolonged use of contact lenses can cause a corneal abrasion or scratched cornea. You can scratch the eyes when inserting or removing contact lenses. Wearing contacts longer than the recommended time can result in more damage to the lens and put you at higher risk for developing a corneal abrasion.

Contact lens solution being poured into a contact lens case to help clean the contact lenses to ensure no eye irritation or burning

What to Do If You Experience Burning

If you experience any burning sensation after inserting your contact lenses or at any other time:

  • Remove your contact lenses immediately.
  • Clean them thoroughly.
  • Give your eyes a break.
  • If you still experience burning after reinserting, remove them, inspect them for any damage, and switch to eyeglasses.
  • Contact your eye doctor to book an eye exam to determine the cause. 

Contact Lens Comfort 

Contact lenses, prescribed by your eye doctor, can benefit your vision and comfort. They can, in some cases, cause burning and discomfort. Our team at Park Slope Eye is ready to help you resolve any contact lens issues. 
Book an appointment today to restore health to your eyes.


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  • Written by Justin Bazan

    Dr. Justin Bazan is a 2004 SUNY College of Optometry graduate. He established Park Slope Eye in 2008 with the goal of providing high quality eyecare and incredible eyewear for the neighborhood. He has a true passion for optometry and stay up to date with the current research and trends. He is active in the profession and holds several leadership positions on the local, state and national levels. Dr. Bazan is a Park Slope local and can often be seen out in the neighborhood so be sure to say Hi next time you see him!

    More Articles by Justin Bazan

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