What Are My Options If I Can't Wear Contact Lenses?

Mar 13, 2023
What Are My Options If I Can't Wear Contact Lenses?
Contact lenses revolutionized optometry, but these in-eye “glasses” aren’t right for everyone. Here are your choices for vision correction if you find that your contact lens intolerant.

Leonardo da Vinci invented contact lenses in the 1500s, but the first practical contact lens hit the market in the late 1800s. Since then, these handy little discs have evolved from glass to plastic to the comfortable gas-permeable lenses available today.

Sadly, not everyone is well-suited for contact lenses, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. 

At Vision Corner in Houston, Texas, we provide comprehensive optometry services and can address all types of vision impairment. Here, Dr. Sophia Barnes explains what makes you a poor candidate for contact lenses, what causes contact lens intolerance, and what you can do if you can’t wear contacts. 

Who can’t wear contact lenses?

About 45 million people wear contact lenses to improve their vision, but not everyone has that option. You may not be a good candidate for contact lenses if you have any of the following conditions.

Dry eye syndrome

Without plenty of healthy tears, contact lenses rub against your eyes and dry out as the air zaps moisture. Chronic dry eye syndrome robs you of the natural tears you need to lubricate contact lenses and wear them comfortably. 

Dr. Barnes can prescribe artificial tears for mild to moderate dry eye syndrome to lubricate your eyes and make contact lenses possible. However, wearing contacts with severe dry eye syndrome can scar your cornea. 

Eyelid inflammation

Inflamed eyelids or blepharitis is common in people with excessively oily skin. When the glands in and around your eyes overproduce sebum (oil), you develop scaly, crusty buildup on your eyelids that harbor bacteria, making contact lenses very uncomfortable.

Antibiotics and corticosteroid treatments can control blepharitis. If your symptoms resolve, you may be a good candidate for contact lenses. 

Severe allergies

Seasonal allergies and perennial eye allergies can hinder your ability to wear contact lenses because allergies trigger itching, swelling, and eye-watering. If immunotherapy or other treatments can control your symptoms, you may be able to wear contact lenses despite your allergies.

Astigmatism or other complicated conditions

Astigmatism is the term that describes an irregularly shaped cornea. Rather than round, your cornea has an oblong shape. 

Having astigmatism doesn’t count you out of the contact lens game — we have special hard and hybrid lenses designed specifically for you. But some people with astigmatism or other extreme vision problems may not see as clearly with contact lenses as they do with eyeglasses. 

What causes contact lens intolerance?

Some people develop contact lens intolerance after wearing them for a while. You may notice eye irritation, blurry vision, infections, grittiness, or burning. Some of the common factors that lead to contact lens intolerance include:


  • Wearing your contacts too long
  • Not cleaning your contacts properly
  • Poorly fitted contacts
  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Allergies
  • Reaction to the lens material
  • Corneal abrasions and ulcers

Contact lenses provide freedom from frames and unhindered views, and they don’t fog up or get smudged. But they do require special care, a sterile environment, and constant replacements. 

Beyond contacts — your options

Depending on what’s stopping you from wearing contacts, you may simply need to address the underlying problem to clear the way for getting contacts. However, if you aren’t a good candidate for contacts, you develop contact lens intolerance, or you don’t want them, you still have options.

LASIK surgery

A revolutionary surgery called laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) can correct many types of vision impairments, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Dr. Barnes works with the best LASIK surgeons in Houston and can refer you for surgery if you’re a good candidate for the procedure.

Embrace your glasses

It may be disappointing to learn that you can’t wear contact lenses, but if nothing can be done to correct the underlying problem, we can help you love your eyeglasses. We have a huge selection of the most popular brands and styles, and we love to help you choose your frames. 

Today’s eyeglasses fit every person and personality, every outfit and activity, and, most important, every prescription. Dr. Barnes performs a comprehensive eye exam to identify your unique vision needs and fits you with glasses that will have you seeing well far into the future. Be sure to ask about our prescription sunglasses and computer glasses, too.

To learn more about contact lenses and eyeglasses, contact us at Vision Corner online or by phone to schedule an appointment.