Contact Lens Overwear Syndrome (OWS)

Contact lenses are not meant to be worn 24 hours a day. If you wear your lenses for too many hours of the day or fail to replace them regularly, you run the risk of contact lens complications.

Overwear syndrome can occur if you wear your contact lenses beyond the appropriate length of time. OWS can also result from wearing your lenses while sleeping or from neglecting to replace them at regular intervals. Contact lens overwear syndrome is most common with non-gas permeable hard lenses and can be quite painful. In severe cases, it may cause eye infections and other complications.

Causes of Overwear Syndrome:

When your eye is open, it receives oxygen directly from the atmosphere. When your eye is closed or covered by a contact lens, it receives oxygen from capillaries in the ocular region, which provides less oxygen than it normally receives through the atmosphere. Contact lens movement, thickness, oxygen permeability, and wearing schedule all impact the amount of oxygen reaching your cornea. If you wear your lenses for too long, it will further reduce the amount of oxygen reaching your cornea, which may lead to complications.

Symptoms of Overwear Syndrome:

The following symptoms are commonly experienced by people suffering from OWS:

Eye pain
Decreased vision

Treatment of Overwear Syndrome:

If you are suffering from OWS, you should stop wearing your contacts immediately. In some situations, your ophthalmologist may prescribe a topical antibiotic therapy or a topical steroidal preparation to help alleviate symptoms. Once the condition subsides, you may resume wearing your contact lenses.


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