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Allergic to Air Optix Aqua contacts?

I recently purchased a new 6-pk of Air Optix Aqua to try as I was getting blurriness in the morning (for ~1 hr after waking up) when I would sleep in my Acuvue 2 contact lenses. I thought these Air Optix might be more comfortable. Note, they did eliminate the blurriness in the morning.

However, over the course of ~2 months I have tried every pair (I'm now about to throw away the last pair) and the result is the same. I put the Air Optix lenses in my eyes and within 24 hours I'm getting crusty eyes when I wake up and mucous discharge during waking hours. Discomfort and some red streaking in the sclera also. I take the pair out, and within 24-48 hours my eyes are completely normal again (though the red streaking doesn't seem to go away it does get lighter). I've waited 7-12 days, put a new pair in and yet again within 24 hours I'm getting crusty eyes and mucous discharge during the day, red streaking and discomfort. Take them back out, eyes normal within 24-48 hours again. Same result on this last pair (though this time I only gave a 2 day break as I was confident that it cannot be conjunctivitis and must be allergic).

Is it possible my eyes are just allergic to this material (lotrifilcon B polymer)? The first time it happened I even used an optic antibiotic for 7-10 days as I had thought it was conjunctivitis (though I didn't notice there wasn't really burning or grittiness as is typical). But with the time and treatment, I am sure the new pairs are not conjunctivitis.

Should I bother trying other silicon hydrogel materials like the Acuvue Oasys or Acuvue Vita (senofilcon), Biofinity Energys (comfilcon), or Avaira Viltality (fanfilcon)? Will the result be the same or is it possible that I'm only allergic to lotrifilcon?
8 Responses
177275 tn?1511758844
There are many reasons why contacts are uncomfortable. Allergy to the lens material is not a common cause. Much more likely is the shape or sensitivity of your eye or how dry they are. If contact lens are important try other types or consider just glasses or refractive surgery like lasik
1 Comments
Be sure you are being fitted under the supervision of an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Don't try to fit yourself using internet contacts.
Avatar universal
I don't wear contacts any more, but when my doctor wanted to switch me from Acuvue Oasys to Air Optix, I had the same reaction.  I always thought the Acuvues were very comfortable but every time I tried Air Optix by the third day of wearing them my eyes were so irritated I'd have to go without contacts altogether for several days to recover.  Try different brands.
2 Comments
Just so people don't get the idea everyone has trouble with Air Optix, I thought I'd note that I had good luck with them, as well as  with the Acuvue Oasys (which were better than Acuvue 2 for me). For years with older generations of contacts I tended to have issues with allergies causing them trouble, and GPC, until I wore those and had much fewer problems  (then just before cataract I surgery had to switch to another brand   that made a higher power, and wound up with GPC again).

It depends on the person what  contact brand&model works best, and I don't think they can predict in advance the best one for a particular person. If something isn't comfortable, it makes sense to try others. In my case I had good luck with the Acuvue Oaysys and wore them for some years. I switched to Air Optix     to try out their multifocal which had different optical  characteristics than Acuvue's (and my optometrist had good luck with patients liking it), and I preferred their optics, ad   also found them  comfortable.

There are many brands for people to try, and of course things like daily wear contacts in addition to the longer term wear ones.
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Avatar universal
I am glad that I came across your post! My sister and I have both experienced allergic reactions to our Air Optix. We both have been long time contact lense users and are very certain that it is the lense material that we are reacting to. My sister asked her optometrist about it and he said more and more of his patients are experiencing allergies to this brand, mostly over the recent year or so. We both reverted back to Acuvue Oasis and are doing fine. We wonder if the manufacturer changed the lense material recently. Something for other physicians to consider and be mindful of when writing scripts.
1 Comments
Lens material has not been changed as far as I can determine
Avatar universal
I have actually experienced the same issue! I thought I was going crazy. I got the goop in my eyes and I thought maybe I had an eye infection. I thought it could be from my makeup so I threw out all of my makeup and my makeup was from Sephora, so it was definitely expensive and I was sad but I wanted to make sure that I checked all possible solutions but it was not the makeup because the problem continued. It would be maybe 4 days to a week and I would have to throw the contacts out. I went through 4 boxes each eye so 8 boxes total of contacts in less than a year because of this issue. It was not cheap at all. I felt so gross because the goop would go to the corner of my eye and I would wipe it out but it would crust overnight and I would have to wear my glasses the next day. I wore my glasses a lot because I just could not deal with this issue any longer. I did not have an eye infection either. I do have allergies so I take Zyrtec every night before bed and always have, then I take Benadryl when I am near cats because I am allergic so I thought maybe this could be it. It was not the case because it would happen even if I had not been around cats at all. I recently went to the eye doctor for my visit and found out that hundreds of people have experience this problem. She actually reached out to the company themselves and they state that nothing has changed in the ingredients but that can not be true and something had to of changed either in the ingredients or in the plant that they were manufactured. I am so glad that I am not crazy and tons of people are with me. The company actually wanted her to file a list of all the names of the people and experience the problem but she had hundreds and hundreds of patients. You are not alone. This is not okay DO NOT continue using these contacts.
13 Comments
good to know. thanks JHAGanMD
I went through the same thing as brichmond...tossed out and bought new makeup, changed solutions and tried everything. My eye dr gave me a trial pair of Air Optix and they were as bad as Oasis. I pulled an old lens from my suitcase of Accuvue2 and it was awesome.  I don't know what to do...I loved my contacts but I can not wear these new contacts without severe itching and inflammation.
So the problem is your contact lens. The older people get the fewer can or will tolerate contact lens.  The problems are worse in females because of make up and after 40 dry eye becomes much more common in women than men (10 to 1).  there is also an allergic problem called giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPS) that develops under the eyelid from protein that sticks to the contact irritating the back of the lid. This can only be diagnosed if your eye doctor flips your upper lids and exams with the biomicroscope.   If you have GPC going to daily wear disposable, reducing wearing time and using opticrom will allow some to continue. However  many have to discontinue and go back to glasses or refractive surgery. 20% of our LASIK patients lost the ability to wear contacts.
I found a pair of Oasis from last years batch of contacts....same kind as the new batch that I got. I am going to try them for a few days and see if there is a difference. The Accuview2 pairs give me no problems.  My insurance won't cover LASIK. What is Opticrom?
An eye drop for GPC (cromyln sodium)
I had been using Air Optix Multifocal since 2013 and they were great until it came time to re-order in 2016. The new batch was completely unwearable. My eyes were getting very irritated, and it constantly felt like I had sand grains under my eyelids. There was also goopy discharge which also crusted up along my eyelids. Very uncomfortable to wear. The effects would last a couple of days after removal. I could wear only glasses and wait a few days for my eyes to recover.

After doing a little online research, I noticed that Air Optix did change chemical composition in 2016. They seem to have added HydraGlyde in 2016 and SmartShield in 2017. These seem to be coatings over the lens.

I did see my optometrist in 2016 and tried different lenses. The ones that helped my vision best were still the Air Optix with the same prescription I have had since 2013. The free pair of Air Optix I tried from the optometrist were fine in my eyes and I had no reaction for an entire month. They were great, I decided to order more. But the new order again irritated my eyes. I could only surmise that the pair the optometrist gave me must have been in his cupboard since before 2016, before the chemical changes were introduced. I had to conclude that the problem is not due to a change in my eyes, but rather a change in the lens.

I am hoping Air Optix looks at this discussion and changes its lenses back to the way they were. Is there any way for us to get in touch with the manufacturer and petition them to make some changes? I get the feeling they will just deny that they have made any changes at all. The contact lens industry seems to be a little shady, with arbitrary pricing that fluctuates wildly, and the ability to get any lense you want, any time, and possible cause irreparable harm to yourself. I wonder if it's time for it to become regulated. Today, it's like the wild wild west with no accountability.
Almost nothing from the economy to education works better being regulated.  That is what has led to the outlandish prices on generic medicines. You can go on the company's website and use the "contact us" feature.  Any company including Air Optix want to sell more contact lens. One way is to make them more comfortable and fit more people. Any change they make is to head further in that direction. If they made a 'chemical change" as you say and it had causes more problems than the old change and more people complained and were unable to wear them and optometrists and ophthalmologists noted this problem you can bet they would revert quickly back to the old formula.  So while you can continue to believe what you want it is not likely the problem and it is your eyes have changed over time. Each decade fewer people can wear contacts.  After 40 the % who can't increases dramatically. You don't see many 60 year olds wearing contacts.
Well, I think it is important to regulate, for safety and security, biological and medical products that people will ingest and put in their bodies. If regulations are done properly (which they almost never are), there should not be an issue with sky rocketing prices. Didn't many US citizens at one time flock to Canada for more affordable medicine?

In my own case, how would you explain the fact that one pair of the same lens did not cause a reaction at all in my eyes even after I had had problems with a different lot of the same lens? How would you explain the fact that at about the same time in 2016, many people started complaining about discomfort with these lenses? Perhaps we are all in the same age group? Probably, because, after all, they are multifocals, more applicable for ages 50+ (who else would need them anyway? What would be the point in making multifocal lenses if the age group that needs them can't wear them because they are too old?) And how would you explain that I have had no discomfort with any other manufacturer's lens?

I agree with you about the economics of it and that it would be in Alcon's best interest to ensure the product is wearable by the largest demographic of people, but If indeed we are all in the same age group, I'm afraid our complaints will be going to deaf ears. This problem will be discounted, just as you have, as an age related issue. Our optometrists and ophthalmologists will tell us to stop wearing contact lenses.
I don't have the time or inclination to digress into a debate. I have provide information that generalizes well to large groups of people.  Best of luck
I have been experiencing the same issues described here and I'm fairly certain that the more recent Air Optix Aqua lenses have something in them that is irritating my eyes. I am 66, have been wearing contacts since my late 20s and have NEVER had allergies of any sort. My optician switched me to this brand in late 2013 and I was fine for several years. Then in mid 2016 I started experiencing severely itchy eyes with goop that had me waking up with my eyes stuck shut. I do not wear the lenses at night. Since 2016 I have been off the contacts fairly regularly to allow what I thought was dry eye and / or allergies to settle down. I needed a new batch of lenses at the end of November 2017, but they were on back order and took 6 weeks to arrive. In the meantime, I found an old pair of test Bausch and Lomb lenses that I had not used before. I wore them for just over 3 weeks and had no problems at all. The scratchy feeling in my eyes went away completely - for the first time since I started experiencing the issues in mid 2016. Then I started using my new lenses on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, and the very first day, my problems were back. A feeling of scratchiness in my eyes and the sticky goop. Looking back at my daily journal where I've been making notes about my contacts for the past few moths, I can see that new lenses are the worst and after a week or so of wearing them the problem settles down a little. But my eyes were often really itchy at night after removing the lenses for cleaning. This has to be something in these lenses that is irritating my eyes. I am most grateful to discover from reading all your comments here, that I am not the only one who has been having trouble and this is not about dry eyes or allergies or getting older.  I absolutely agree with what others are suggesting - something must have changed in the composition of these lenses in 2016.
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Totally agree!  I've been wearing these lenses for years,  now in the last 4 month from an earlier order 2017 have been bothering me and i was diagnosed with papillary conjunctivitis, i did the steroids, and now a daily drops  of  Cromolyn Sodium Ophtalmic Solution, by the 3rd day i'm back to my glasses. I am so bummed cause ive been wearing these for years and loved them, i just dont understand  it, i am willing to change my solution to see if that makes a difference??????
Now at all likely to help. GPC develops over years but once occurs indicates allergy to protein that builds up on contact lens.  Some people can wear daily wear lens and use chromolyn but most either go to glasses or refractive surgery
Avatar universal
Contact lens wearer for 35 years, since I was 20. Also have had recent Air Optix reaction. It had been my multi focal of choice for several years. I can tie my problems to the most recent batch I bought in April of 2017. Heavy mucous discharge during the day, had to take lens out and rinse multiple times a day. Crusty discharge overnight. It was hard to tie it to my lens as I also have seasonal allergies, so had symptoms in both eyes during a particularly bad allergy season in 2017. But I only wear in one eye and my non-lens eye wasn’t having issues once winter came around. At the advice of my eye doctor I tried a couple of combinations of new solutions to no avail. We tried some other lens options, daily wear won and I just switched to another Alcon lens - Total 1. Pricy, but very comfortable again. Just confirmed the issue for myself. Having gone through my samples, I had to put another Air Optix in today to tide me over until my new lenses are delivered - by midday, the heavy mucous discharge was back again. IMO there is no question something was changed and it is causing an allergic reaction for me.
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Avatar universal
I found that it depended on where the lenses were manufactured. I can only wear the air optix manufactured Indonesia. I am not allergic to those. I can not wear them if they were not manufactured anywhere else. I get the same allergic reaction.
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Avatar universal
I'm glad to know it's not just me...My eyes react horribly to these contact lenses.  After day two, my eyes crust over during the night and then I get sores under my upper eyelid which has to be treated with a steroid drop.  These are horrible lenses and I don't know how they're still on the market.
3 Comments
Avatar universal
i am glad i read this article.  since i got my new prescription on air optix aqua my eyes have gotten so irratated and painful tha finally i decided to stop using them.  at the beginning i though it was a matter of adjustment but i realize that i am allergic to them.  very painful experience
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