Contact lenses can be pretty convenient, which is why some people pick contacts over glasses. They offer a more natural field of vision; they don’t automatically alter your appearance; and they can be more suitable for certain activities, like working out.

However, some contact wearers may experience eye irritation from their lenses. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes eye pain from contacts and how to relieve contact irritation. 

Eye Pain From Contacts: Do Contacts Hurt? 

No, contacts should never hurt your eyes, but getting used to them takes time. Wearing contacts may cause a little eye irritation at first, but after a few days, your eyes should adjust. 

If the pain persists, it’s best to contact your optometrist to figure out a resolution. 

Why Does My Contact Feel Weird or Irritated?

There are several reasons why you may experience eye irritation from your contacts. You may be wearing poorly fitted lenses, suffering from allergies, or experiencing dry eyes

Knowing the reason for the discomfort can help you alleviate the pain more quickly. Here are some common reasons your contacts may be giving you eye irritation. 

Poorly Fitted Lenses

Not all contacts will work for you. Why? Everyone’s eyes are different. So not all lenses will fit your eyes correctly. It’s important to have an optometrist fit you for contacts because they can choose lenses that accommodate your eye shape and eye needs.

Some people may feel good in their lenses initially but then experience sore eyes from contacts or feel like their eyes have something stuck in them (like an eyelash). This is why most optometrists require a follow-up appointment to see how the contacts are doing with your eyes. Based on your experience, your optometrist may determine that a different brand or product would suit your needs better. 


Allergies are a common cause of eye irritation for contact wearers. If you have allergies, your eyes might start to hurt after wearing the same lenses every day because allergens that you’re sensitive to have built up on the contacts. For this reason, some people wear daily disposable lenses instead of monthly contacts, using fresh lenses every day.   

Eye allergies are a response to something irritating that comes in contact with the eye. The reaction might be due to environmental allergens, smoke, perfume, or even some kinds of food. In rare instances, a contact wearer may even be allergic to the solution they use or the lens material itself.

Contact wearers suffering from allergies may experience itchy, dry, or watery eyes. It’s a good idea to temporarily wear glasses if you experience allergies because it can help alleviate your pain and give your eyes time to rest.

Dry Eyes

When your body doesn’t make enough tears, your eyes may become dry or irritated. For contact wearers, this can be a big problem. Remember: Tears help the eyes stay moist, which is essential to your eye health.

Eyes irritated from contacts may sometimes be due to dry eyes. For some people, wearing contacts might increase the likelihood of dry eyes. Although contacts do allow oxygen and moisture to pass through to the eyes, bare eyes would allow more.

But, luckily dry eyes can easily be treated with lubricating eye drops, which help restore the moisture in your eyes. 

An Eye Infection 

If any part of your eye becomes infected, it’s likely that wearing contacts may worsen the symptoms. 

For example, keratitis (an inflamed cornea) is a common eye infection that contact wearers may experience. While your eye heals from the infection, you should avoid wearing contacts to avoid making the situation worse. 

Following any eye infection, it’s best to wait to wear your lenses again until after your eyes have been treated by an eye doctor and have fully recovered. 

Scratched Eye

If you have a corneal abrasion (a scratch on the cornea), your eyes may feel gritty or painful. They may also be sensitive to light and even appear red. 

Wearing contacts when you have a corneal abrasion may alleviate the pain or make these symptoms worse. If wearing contacts causes pain, consider wearing glasses until the abrasion heals. You should always consult with your eye doctor immediately if you experience any pain with your contact lenses.

Usually, your eye will recover from a minor scratch after a few days, but it’s always a good idea to reach out to your eye doctor to ensure that the eye isn’t infected. 

Something on the Contacts

Because contacts touch your eyes, regular cleaning and disinfecting are essential. If you don’t clean the lenses, you risk harming your eyes. Dust, dirt, allergens, and other materials may build up on the lenses, which can cause irritation or infection. 

So the takeaway? Always disinfect your lenses. If you want to learn more, check out our guide on how to clean your contacts safely.  

Old Contacts 

Contact lenses do expire, and you shouldn’t keep wearing them after the expiration date passes. When contact lenses expire, they become more exposed to bacteria and fungi, which can cause discomfort and eye infections. In other words, old contacts irritate the eyes and will probably make wearing your lenses unpleasant—a good reason to never wear expired lenses.

Before putting contacts in your eyes, always check the date found on the lens container. If you’re unsure of the date, it’s best to discard them and get some new lenses.

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How To Soothe Irritated Eyes From Contacts

Here are some helpful tips to avoid eye irritation from contacts:

  • Try new lenses: Getting a new pair of lenses may be an option to consider if your contacts are causing you problems due to damage or bacterial buildup on the surface. Using a new pair of lenses or switching to daily contacts may be the answer to your problem.
  • Use eye drops or artificial tears: Eye drops and/or artificial tears are two common ways to relieve your eye irritation. However, talk to your optometrist first to ensure that the products will solve the problem and not worsen it. 
    Read More: How To Put In Eye Drops
  • Clean your lenses: Not cleaning and disinfecting your lenses properly can easily lead to eye pain or irritation. Be sure to clean your contacts with the proper solution daily, so dirt and bacteria don’t sit on the surface. 
  • Wash your hands: Surprisingly, many people don’t always wash their hands before putting in contacts, which can lead to eye irritation. Use soap and rinse it off your hands thoroughly before touching your contacts or your eye. 

Rest Your Eyes and Reach Out to Your Doctor!

Contacts are beneficial, but unfortunately, they can cause eye irritation. If your eyes begin to hurt due to your lenses, take them out immediately so your eyes can rest and breathe. 

If you experience any eye pain, irritation, or inflammation, book an eye exam with your doctor immediately.

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