Are you allergic to your contact solution?

Next up on the allergy hit parade…contact solution.

What’s that saying, when one door closes, another door opens? Well when you have histamine intolerance that isn’t always a good thing I’m thinking!

I seem to be maintaining a pretty itch free existence right now, but I also seem to be developing an allergy to my contact solution. Whether this has any direct relation to my histamine intolerance is still a question, but any allergy is still part of the whole equation is how I see it.

I’ve been pretty lucky to this point with what body products I can use and what I can’t. I can use shampoo and soap from Whole Foods as long as they’re free of parabens and preservatives. (I’m going to do a post on parabens later in the week as they are very bad for your endocrine system and I wonder how much they can affect a peri-menopausal woman, or any woman for that matter) I use Toms toothpaste and Toms propelyn glycol free deodorant. I don’t wear make-up, never liked it on me, so that’s not an issue. And if you’ve kept up with my blog, you already know I use only olive oil on my skin as a moisturizer. So all in all I’ve been lucky about what causes a reaction and what doesn’t. But recently my contact solution and I seem to not agree.

I’ve been wearing contacts for about eighteen years. I first tried them back in college but had a terrible reaction to the cleaning solutions so I had to give them up within a year. Back then, you bought a pair of contacts that lasted a year and the solutions were very harsh. You had to use an enzyme cleanser once a week to remove the hard deposits that built up on the lenses. That stuff would absolutely wreak havoc with my eyes.

But years later, the more advanced contacts came out and with them better solutions. My eye doctor tells me that I still have an allergy to the solutions, but that I just have to be careful about which one I use. I can see it when I look under my eyelids. They are always red and inflamed. Your eyelids are covered in mast cells, and we know mast cells are the little devils that release histamine, so if you are allergic to anything in your eye you know it pretty quickly.

I wear the two week Accuvue Oaysis and have been using Complete multi purpose solution. Any other solution makes my eyes feel like I have glass in them within days of using it. Up until a couple of months ago, the Complete gave me no problems. But this week I was brought to the point of researching contacts and their solutions because I could not stand the pain anymore. When I first put a new pair in, I feel like nothing is in my eyes all day. The first week of wearing a pair is usually fine, but over the course of the second week the comfort level drops substantially. The more they feel gritty and dry, the more I am likely to use the rewetting drops. And in case you didn’t know, the rewetting drops are really just contact solution in a tiny ultra expensive package. I also wind up using more solution to clean them and rub them pretty intensely thinking they’re dirty.

So the more they hurt the more solution I start to use and the allergy cycle increases until I put in a new pair. I don’t think it’s the contacts themselves degrading over time because I’ve never had an allergy to silicone. (I just re-caulked my bathroom tub with silicone and got some on my hand and had no reaction so that’s a pretty good indicator)

I decided to research my issue and discovered that many people have issue with the solutions, and the reason is the preservatives in them. I’ve been diligent about keeping preservative out of everything else in my life yet daily, I’ve been pouring them into my eyes. Maybe the cleaner your body gets the more it begins to react to “bad” things. Just a theory though

I’ve opted to try a new solution I never even knew existed before yesterday. It uses a special case and solution of hydrogen peroxide. You put your contacts into the case and pour the solution into the vial and then seal it. A catalyst in the bottom of the case activates the peroxide and bubbles. After six hours, the peroxide is rendered inert, so the contacts you are putting in are basically sitting in preservative free saline. I also bought a bottle of preservative free saline to use in case I need to rinse them off if grit (or the ever present cat hair) gets on them.

I guess I’ll know within a couple of weeks of using this new system if the solution was the problem. Actually, I might know sooner because I won’t be reintroducing the preservatives into my eyes daily. I’m hoping the redness will go away quickly. I’ll let you guys know.

In any case, the point of this whole diatribe on contacts is that we must be ever vigilant about what goes into and onto our bodies. Everyday I was putting chemicals into my eyes that I trusted as they are available to the mass market, but that doesn’t mean they won’t cause problems. And I’ve said to many people on this site that they must analyze everything that touches them to figure out why they are reacting and having hives or whatever their histamine intolerant manifestation is.

It’s a good lesson for me too.

I will report back within the next couple of weeks, if not sooner, on whether my eyes improve having discarded another source of irritation. Please leave a response or question if you’ve also had issues with your contacts, I’d love to start a conversation.

In the meantime, have an itch free day!
DLB

Edit:

I know it’s only been hours since I put my contacts in, but I have to say that today my eyes have already shown a marked improvement over yesterday. As soon as I put the lenses in I knew they felt differently. There was no burning or gritty feeling as I usually feel. They went in and that was it. How many mornings I’ve had to put them in and take them out and rinse them and put them in over and over because they burned or felt like something was on them, only to have to leave the house thinking oh well, they’ll be ok. Today I’ve had no problem with them at all. By this time yesterday I was already having major issues.

I hope I’m not exaggerating when I say that my vision seems sharper too. Now, when I think back to when my problems started, it was well before just a couple of months ago as I said above in my original post. I’m quite sure I’ve had the issue at least the entire year and maybe even before that. I can think back to endless days of frustration trying to read a computer screen through blurry eyes. I’d blink and move my lenses around until they cleared. And when my eyes got tired at night, I had real problems with the lenses fogging up.

So let’s see how it goes. It’s only been a day, but I have real hope that I corrected a nagging problem and in doing so brought a new issue that needed to be addressed to light.

I don’t usually post product information, but to help anyone who is interested in researching what I am using, the peroxide solution is called Clear Care by Ciba and the preservative free saline is Simply Saline by Arm & Hammer. (I haven’t tried that yet because I haven’t needed to)

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, Women's health
3 comments on “Are you allergic to your contact solution?
  1. Sandy says:

    Yes the cleaning solutions bother me, so I use daily contacts packaged in saline. I don’t have to worry about any cleaning solutions as I get a new pair of contacts everyday. These contacts are thinner and feel much better. There is much less chance of getting an eye infection when using these also.

    • Are they hideously expensive? I think I pay about 180 dollars a year for the contacts. Have no idea what the additional cost of solution is, but now you’re making me think.

      If a bottle of this new solution is ten dollars and lasts a month or less, than that’s another 120 dollars, so if you spend 300 dollars a year, your contacts make more sense to use for hygiene and economics.

  2. […] the second week of using the new preservative free contact solution (my first post about this is here) and I cannot tell you how much my eyes have improved since starting. I’ve gone from thinking […]

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