More than 61% of Americans need help to see clearly. Over 45 million achieve this by wearing contact lenses. Unfortunately, for nearly 5 million contact lens wearers, they suffer from a little-known condition called CLI, or Contact Lens Intolerance. Those living with contact lens intolerance mean pain, irritation, dry eyes, and more, all of which can progress to inflammation and even ulcerated eyes. Even worse: many patients are unaware they are even contact lens intolerant.
Simply put, Contact Lens Intolerance (CLI) is when your eyes start to reject contact lenses and cause several uncomfortable side effects. Symptoms include:
During the late twentieth century, contact lenses provided a reprieve for eyeglass wearers who wanted to live active lives. People who formerly had to wear glasses 24/7 were now free from constantly adjusting their glasses on their noses, cleaning their glasses with expensive, scratch-free swatches, or wearing head straps to keep their glasses in place.
However, millions discovered their freedom was short-lived as they encountered the short-term challenges and long-term health risks of wearing contact lenses.
Most of my patients are not aware of CLI (contact lens intolerance) and think it’s just part of the everyday hassle of wearing contacts. When they find out their diagnosis, they often feel relieved because they now know there is something they can do about it.Daniel Haddad M.D. – CLI Expert & SMILE Surgeon
Time has shown us that wearing contact lenses comes with hazards. Because they cover the cornea (surface of your eye) for hours during wear, they prevent much-needed oxygen from reaching the eyes, which can lead to short-term inflammation and irritation and potential long-term damage.
While contact lenses provide temporary freedom from glasses, the regular cleaning process adds another must-do item to your already busy schedule. Not following this regimen can result in bacteria and protein buildup that can contribute to contact lens irritation and add to the risks of contact lens intolerance.
For many contact lens wearers, pollen and other environmental allergens like pet dander and dust can blur their vision and irritate their eyes. Allergens often stick to the contacts’ surface, making it difficult to see clearly and providing another source of contact lens intolerance, with the accompanying eye redness, itchiness, and pain.
Annually, approximately 5 million contact lens wearers are faced with one or more of these symptoms and may suffer from CLI.
Typically, advice for treating CLI is oriented toward removing the contacts (or not wearing them altogether) or using eye drops, (another inconvenience, and an added expense), or trying different (and often more expensive) contact lens brands.
Those that face Contact Lens Intolerance typically seek care at their primary eye care physician. Typically, they will try to treat contact lens intolerance by changing the type or brand of lenses or suggesting additional cleaning or eyedrops. While for some this may reduce their symptoms it by no means eliminates the need for contact lenses; put simply these are the best treatment options many primary eye care physicians can offer.
Today, those suffering from CLI aren’t limited to resorting back to glasses or expensive contact lenses. Many patients find relief from contact lens intolerance eliminating their need for contact lenses altogether with the help of a laser vision correction surgeon and a type of vision correction called SMILE.
If you have experienced any symptoms of contact lens irritation or intolerance, including itchy dry eyes, and are ready to see clearly without daily suffering and a ton of eye care products on your bathroom counter, it may be time to explore the benefits of SMILE and how it may eliminate your CLI.
David Lemieux, BA from Oakland University is a LASIK expert and marketing professional that has worked with Dr. Dan Haddad and the Laser Eye Institute since 2017. David believes in education and cutting through the noise to deliver facts and opinions about LASIK, SMILE, and all things Laser Vision Correction.