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  • Could contact lenses cause redness around iris?


    My son wears contact lenses and recently developed a red ring around the iris of one eye. It seems to look better this morning after returning to wearing his glasses. How long should he wait before seeing a doctor? Can this go away on its own?


    Symptoms of eye redness, irritation, blurred vision, or pain are never normal. Contacts should feel comfortable with good vision and no redness. The red ring may be a side effect of a contact lens which is damaged (torn, or has protein on it) or fitting too tightly. It can also be a reaction to the contact lens cleaning solution or the contact lens itself.

    Then again it may be that the contact lenses aren't the culprit at all, and the redness may be secondary to 1) a bacterial or viral eye infection (conjunctivitis or corneal ulcer); or 2) an inflammation in the eye called iritis, which can be idiopathic (arising from an unknown cause). It could also be a sign of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, or an allergic reaction to pets, pollen, or other environmental factors.

    In any case, have your son wear glasses now and make an appointment with your ophthalmologist. Be sure to bring the offending contacts and contact lens cleaning solution with you to the appointment. Recently one of my patients was using a non-compatible contact lens cleaner and was putting diluted hydrogen peroxide in his eye. I asked him why and he said "all contact lens cleaners are the same." This is incorrect and some solutions will irritate your eyes. Your doctor will inspect your son's eyes, contacts and solution and then, if everything looks fine, put the contacts in and see how they fit.

    This question was originally answered on Dec. 17, 2013.

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