Why are My Contacts Blurry?

6 sources cited
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Reasons Why Your Contacts are Blurry

Contact lenses are a standard medical device used to correct blurry vision caused by refractive errors, such as:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia)
  • Astigmatism (abnormal curvature of the eye)

Experiencing blurry vision while wearing contact lenses can be caused by several factors. These factors range from an outdated prescription to an underlying medical condition such as eye infection, diabetes, and glaucoma. 

This article explores 12 reasons you may have blurred vision while wearing contact lenses. It also covers possible symptoms and treatment options.    

1. New Prescription 

Wearing contact lenses for the first time or getting a new prescription can cause eye strain and blurry vision as your eyes and brain adjust. It may take 2 weeks to feel comfortable wearing a new prescription.

Symptoms may include:

  • Mild headache
  • Slight dizziness
  • Blurred vision 

Follow up with your eye doctor if symptoms and discomfort persist. It may indicate you need a new prescription. 

2. Outdated Prescription

Over time, refractive errors can change, making contact lenses ineffective at correcting visual acuity (distance vision).

It is essential to have an annual comprehensive eye exam to keep your prescription up to date and ensure optimal clear vision. 

3. Allergies

Itchy and watery eyes caused by seasonal or contact allergens can shift the placement of the contact lens on top of the cornea, leading to discomfort and blurry vision. 

Common symptoms of eye allergies include:

  • Red/swollen eyes
  • Itchiness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing
  • Burning sensation

The most effective ways to treat eye allergies and improve vision while wearing contact lenses include:

  • Eliminating the allergen-causing symptoms
  • Taking antihistamines
  • Giving your eyes a break from wearing contacts 
  • Keeping your contacts clean 
  • Using artificial tears

4. Extended Wear

Wearing contacts overnight or longer than prescribed is a common reason you may experience blurry or hazy vision. Since contact lenses become dirty throughout the day, letting them soak overnight is essential.

Contact lenses come in different disposable timeframes, including daily disposables, 2-week disposables, and monthly disposables.

It is important to follow the care instructions of your particular type of lens and throw them away as prescribed. 

5. Improper Fit 

Contact lenses come in many shapes, sizes, and brands. Working with your eye doctor to ensure the lenses fit correctly on top of your eye will help provide clear vision and comfort. 

Symptoms of contact lenses that don’t fit properly include:

  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • Redness and tearing
  • Eye secretions
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Burning sensation 
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes

If you experience discomfort while wearing contacts, remove the lenses and seek help from your eye doctor for a new fitting. 

6. Astigmatism 

Wearing contacts with astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea) can cause the lens to shift easily, leading to blurry vision and discomfort. 

Symptoms of astigmatism include:

  • Blurred vision 
  • Eyestrain and squinting
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty with night vision

There are contact lenses designed specifically for people with astigmatism. An eye doctor can diagnose astigmatism during a routine comprehensive eye exam.

7. Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome results from the eye not producing enough tears or tear film. Dry eyes can make it uncomfortable and painful to wear contact lenses.  

Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:

  • Blurred vision when reading
  • Burning or stinging sensation
  • Gritty feeling in the eye
  • Excessive mucus or discharge around the eye
  • Red, irritated eyes

If you have dry eyes, your eye doctor may recommend using eye drops while wearing contact lenses. If symptoms are severe, you may need to avoid using contact lenses until your dry eyes are successfully treated. 

8. Eye Floaters 

Experiencing eye floaters while wearing contact lenses can temporarily change your vision. Eye floaters can also produce the feeling that your lenses are dirty or shifting in your eye.

Symptoms of eye floaters include small shapes in your field of vision, such as:

  • Dots
  • Circles
  • Specs
  • Cobwebs
  • Lines

Eye floaters are caused by changes to the vitreous (gel-like substance in the eye) that happen over time and are typically harmless.

However, prolonged eye floaters can be a sign of retinal detachment and should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist immediately.  

9. Eye Infection 

Extended wear and improper cleaning and handling of contact lenses can lead to a severe eye infection and vision change. 

Symptoms of an eye infection include:

  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness and irritation
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Sensitivity to light

Eye infections are treated with medicated eye drops. It is important to stop wearing contact lenses and seek medical attention if you have signs and symptoms of an eye infection. 

10. Hormone Changes

The hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can affect vision and make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable. 

Fluid retention and increased blood volume due to hormone fluctuations can lead to dry eyes. Vision changes experienced during pregnancy typically return to normal after delivery. 

Talk to your eye doctor about ways to treat dry eye during pregnancy. This usually includes eye drops. 

11. Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are often associated with temporary vision changes, including:

  • Zigzag lines
  • Flashing lights or halos on one side of your visual field
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea or vomiting 

Contact lenses will not correct vision changes experienced during a migraine. Treatment includes:

  • Removal of triggers
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers 
  • Prescription medication 

12. Underlying Medical Conditions

If you experience blurred vision or changes in visual acuity while wearing contact lenses, it may be due to an underlying medical condition separate from refractive errors.

Medical conditions that can affect vision include:

  • Diabetes. Can damage blood vessels in the eye, leading to diabetic retinopathy
  • Cardiovascular disease. Can damage veins and arteries in the eye
  • Cataracts. A cloud in the lens that can cause blurry vision and eye prescription changes
  • Glaucoma. Results in an increase in intraocular eye pressure, leading to vision loss
  • Macular degeneration. Results in blurred and reduced central vision

Seek immediate medication attention if you experience sudden vision changes or unexplained blurred vision. 

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Why Routine Eye Exams are Essential 

If you wear contact lenses, you must get routine comprehensive eye exams to monitor vision changes and keep your eye prescription up to date. 

Routine eye exams can catch underlying eye conditions early, avoiding serious complications that include vision loss and blindness. 

Summary

Experiencing blurry vision while wearing contact lenses can be caused by several factors. These factors range from an outdated prescription and improper fit to more severe eye conditions, including glaucoma and cardiovascular disease.

It is essential to obtain routine comprehensive eye exams while wearing contact lenses to monitor vision changes and catch eye conditions early. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience sudden vision loss or unexplained blurry vision. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is my vision blurry while wearing contact lenses? 

It is common to experience blurry vision from time to time while wearing contact lenses. This can be caused by extended wear or an outdated prescription. However, unexplained blurred vision can result from infections or severe eye conditions. 

When should I see a doctor if my vision is blurry wearing contact lenses?

If you experience persistent blurry vision while wearing contact lenses, visit your eye doctor. They will evaluate if you need an updated prescription or if vision changes are linked to an infection or a more serious medical condition.

Is there a way to quickly fix blurry contacts?

Common causes of blurry vision while wearing contacts are extended wear, improper fit, and outdated prescription. If you are experiencing continued blurry vision while wearing contact lenses, discard the current lenses and see if a new pair eliminates the problem. If not, contact your eye doctor. 

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6 Cited Research Articles
  1. Turbot, D. “What are eye allergies?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2022.
  2. Boyd, K. “What is astigmatism? Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2022. 
  3. Boyd, K. “What is dry eye? Symptoms, causes, treatment.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2022.
  4. Boyd, K. “Eye infections from contact lenses.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2021.
  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Pregnancy,” 2014.
  6. Boyd, K. “What is migraine?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2022.
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