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Ask Dr. Schauer ~ Why do my contacts burn?

“When I soak my contacts overnight in solution, they always burn when I put them in my eyes in the morning. Is this normal? Should I use different solution?”

Our 103.3 US Country listener asks a good question this morning that I think a lot of contact lens wearers can relate to. The short answer is NO, it is not normal for your contacts to burn when you put them in.

Contact Lens Solutions

Of course, there’s an abundance of choices when it comes to contact lens solutions. First and foremost, it is important to make sure you are using your solution correctly. Read the directions! Some solutions need your contacts to soak for a minimum amount of time. Others can be used for cleaning but are advised to rinse before you insert them. And yet others are all-purpose solutions you can use for everything.

If you are using the solution as it is directed on the label and it is still uncomfortable when you put in your contacts, then we need to dig deeper.


It is possible for folks to be allergic to certain ingredients in the contact lens solution; usually to the preservatives. If you are allergic to something in your solution, it will sting or burn when you put your contacts in. If this is the case, you’ll need to switch to a different solution that does not cause an allergic reaction. The best choice here is to ask the optometrist that prescribed you the contacts. They know your eyes the best and may be able to suggest a certain brand to try, or may have samples to give you to test the solution.

In general, it does seem that allergies are more common with off-brand solutions such as Up-and-Up from Target or Equate from Walmart. These generic solutions are often using older types of preservatives and older formulations which is why it is more common for people to have allergic issues.

Worst case scenario… it does happen where we seem to search for the “right” solution for a patient and they still continue to have problems. In those cases, it is often beneficial to switch to a daily contact that can be discarded every day and thus eliminate the need for solution completely.

Contact Lens Wear

While we do first investigate the solution, sometimes the solution isn’t the problem. It is also important to evaluate how you are wearing your contacts.

Are you wearing them longer than you should?

Are you not changing them as often as you should?

Are you sleeping in them when you should not be?

Sometimes, there are factors with contact lens wear that will account for the discomfort.



Top image property of Vision Source Mandan and is not to be used without written permission.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.