Why Do My Eyes Get Watery While Wearing Contact Lenses?


Do your eyes get watery from contact lenses? You’re not alone.

Even seasoned lens wearers sometimes experience watery eyes while wearing contacts. This is generally no cause for concern, but it can be uncomfortable when it happens.

At Lens.com, we’ve put together some of the most common causes of watery eyes from contact lenses, including tips for avoiding this problem.

1. Dirty Contact Lenses

Protein deposits, dust, pollen, and even makeup residue can build up on the surface of contacts without proper cleaning and cause irritation. This is why cleaning your contact lenses after each use is important.

Don’t forget to clean your contact lens case every day. A contact lens case can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If you don’t clean it regularly, you could end up introducing bacteria to your lenses.

2. Dirty Hands


If you don’t wash your hands before you touch your contacts, you could deposit dirt, germs, and other microscopic debris from your hands onto your lenses.

Those substances can get in your eyes and cause irritation or, worse, infection. For example, you could end up with pink eye, an infection of the membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball. It typically causes red and very watery, irritated eyes.

To avoid irritation and infection, wash and dry your hands before touching your eyes, your contacts, and your contact lens case.

3. Allergic Reaction to Contact Lens Solution

You can develop an allergic reaction to your contact lens solution, even if you have used the same brand for years.

This typically occurs due to the preservatives used in solutions, which your contacts can absorb. Your eyes may react to those preservatives, leaving them watery and irritated.

If you’ve become allergic to your contact lens solution, try one specifically designed for sensitive eyes.

You can also consult your eye doctor to determine which ingredients may be causing your allergic reaction.

4. Allergies

If you have seasonal allergies, wearing contact lenses can be challenging. Pollen, dust, dander, and other irritants can stick to the surface of your contacts and cause your eyes to water.

If you struggle with seasonal allergies as a contact lens wearer, talk to your eye doctor about trying daily replacement lenses. These lenses are designed to be worn for only one day before being discarded, so allergens have less time to accumulate on them.

5. Damaged Contact Lenses

Even the tiniest tear or rip on your contact lenses will leave your eyes red and watery.

Be sure to inspect your lenses before putting them on. If you suspect your contact lens is torn or damaged, throw it away and wear a new one.

6. Inside-Out Contact Lenses

There are a few ways you can tell if your contacts are inside out.

Inside-out contact lenses will feel very uncomfortable on the eye and may even cause your eyes to water.

To check if your contact lens is inside-out, place the lens on the tip of your finger, so the edge of the lens is pointing up. Hold it in front of your eyes and inspect it from the side. If the lens forms a cup shape with the edge perfectly upright, the lens is correctly oriented.

If the lens has a noticeable rim that appears to bend outward, it is inside out.

Other Causes of Watery Eyes

If you get watery eyes even when you’re not wearing contact lenses, the culprits could be:

  • Weather. Changes in the weather can affect the eye due to the amount of humidity in the air.
  • Aerosols. Perfumes, hair sprays, and air fresheners contain irritants that can cause the eye to become red and watery, even if the product isn’t sprayed directly in the eye.
  • Corneal abrasion. A scratch on the cornea (the clear, front surface of the eye) is extremely painful and will cause redness, watering, and even blurred vision.
  • Makeup. Many makeup products are irritating to the eye and can cause watering and sensitivity.
  • Ingrown eyelash. Eyelashes that grow inward instead of outward can touch the eyeball, causing pain, redness, and watery eyes.
  • Styes. Styes develop from an eyelash follicle clogged with oil, debris, or bacteria. They typically cause tenderness, itching, and watery eyes.
  • Smoking. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, including the eyes. Studies show that smoking can lead to eye conditions that can cause vision loss or blindness, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Excessive screen time. Many people forget to blink when staring at a digital screen. This can cause the eyes to dry out and water, and it can also cause blurred vision.

Bottom Line

Contact lenses are generally comfortable to wear. But if you notice any watering or eye irritation, you should remove them immediately and inspect them for any tears, rips, or abnormalities. You should also follow best practices for handling, cleaning, and storing your contact lenses to keep your eyes healthy.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. If you frequently experience watering or irritation while wearing contact lenses or notice any changes in your vision, visit your eye doctor.