Tight lens syndrome is a group of symptoms that happen when a soft contact lens fits too tightly and starts to stick to the cornea (the clear outer layer on the front of the eye).
Soft contact lenses are like sponges. They are made of stretchy material that absorbs water. Like sponges, soft contacts expand and soften when they absorb moisture. But when they are allowed to dry out, they shrink and harden.
When a lens on your eye shrinks, it can squeeze the front of your eye like a suction cup. This causes discomfort, redness, and even blurring due to swelling of the cornea.
Your lenses can dry out because:
The symptoms are:
Your eye care provider will ask about your symptoms and check to see if the lens moves normally on your eye. If the lens doesn't move very much, your provider will suspect tight lens syndrome. Also, a tight contact lens may be difficult to remove from your eye.
Treatment of tight lens syndrome depends on how serious the problem is and what caused it. You may need to use rewetting drops every so often. The drops add moisture to the lens while it is on your eye.
Sometimes the lens may have to be replaced with one that is not as tight on your eye or one that allows more oxygen to reach your cornea. Sometimes your provider will recommend that you stop wearing contacts for a time or change to a new type of lens that is less dependent on moisture to keep its shape.
Know the warning signs of tight lens syndrome. If you have any of the symptoms, don't wait. Take your lenses out and have your eye care provider check your eyes right away. Tight lens syndrome can put you at risk for a serious infection called a corneal ulcer, which can cause permanent scarring and vision loss.