PUBLISHED: 6:14 PM on Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Contact lenses and the allergic eye
Fifty million Americans suffer from allergies at some time during the year. A significant percentage of those who are susceptible to allergens experience most of their symptoms in their eyes.

Allergic conjunctivitis happens when irritants like mold, pollen or dust enter the eye and inflame the inside of the eyelid. Eyes may feel gritty, itchy, watery or swollen. Some people report temporarily blurred vision.

For contact lens wearers, allergies can prove especially problematic. Contact lenses can collect and trap irritants on the eye, aggravating allergy symptoms and sometimes causing infections. Many people choose to wear glasses during allergy season. But Americans with year-long allergies find little relief -; some allergen-sensitive people cannot tolerate contact lenses.

Prescription eyedrops, pills or allergy therapy can help reduce symptoms, and some companies are working to make contact lenses healthier for allergy sufferers. Wearers can throw out daily disposable contacts to avoid allergen build-up in eyes, too, but that can be very expensive.

One company, Best Health, Inc. (, has developed products that thoroughly clean and disinfect soft and gas-permeable contact lenses, something hard to accomplish with standard rub-and-rinse methods and impossible with no-rub care regimens. This company's LensComfort Ultrasonic Cleaning, Disinfecting and Storage Unit uses ultrasonic waves to boost the disinfecting power of their LensComfort Ultrasonic Solution that uniformly and thoroughly cleans both sides of the contact lens simultaneously.

The result? In 15 minutes, the unit completely removes proteins, lipids, oils and debris from gas-permeable, soft, disposable and specialty contact lenses. Allergy sufferers can completely remove build-up from their lenses, helping them avoid irritation and potential infections.

Here are some tips for people with allergies who wear contact lenses during allergy season:

• If your eyes become itchy while wearing your contacts, do not rub your eyes, which can damage tissue. Gently dab moisture away with a tissue, and then remove your contacts as soon as possible. Always keep an extra pair of glasses on hand.

• Reduce the allergens in your life. Do not wear eye makeup unless formulated for sensitive eyes. Wash your sheets and pillowcases in hot water at least once weekly. Keep rooms vacuumed and dusted.