What is Contact Lens Intolerance or CLI

What is Contact Lens Intolerance or CLI?

Konrad Filutowski, MD

Konrad Filutowski, MD

Do you struggle with the pain and irritation of wearing contact lenses daily? You are not alone. According to a study conducted in 2016, there is an estimated 45 million people in the United States that wear contact lenses (1); and about 11% of this statistic develop some form of contact lens intolerance or CLI.

What are the symptoms of Contact Lens Intolerance?

The cause of CLI is not always known; however, patients who experience CLI are those that have been using contact lenses daily for years. Studies show that about 40% of CLI patients experience dry eyes as their main symptom. Similarly, patients with CLI experience a wide variety of symptoms including:

  • Constant eye pain and discomfort when wearing contact lenses.
  • Foreign body sensation and dry eyes (dry eye syndrome)
  • Persistent irritation, itchiness, and red eyes.
  • Eyes that regularly tear up when wearing contact lenses.
  • Contact lenses falling out.

In addition, CLI patients may also fall into one or more of these three categories:

  • Category 1: Patients who have attempted to wear contact lenses but failed to place or keep them in their eyes.
  • Category 2: Patients who have worn contact lenses for many years successfully, but have given up due to the discomfort associated with long-term wear.
  • Category 3: Those who have worn contact lenses for many years and despite the discomfort, continue to wear the lenses.

If you experience one or more of these symptoms or fall into one or more of the categories, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors at the Filutowski Eye Institute.

Your Overall Eye Health is Important

Improper contact lens care and poor lens hygiene can also contribute to CLI. The CDC conducted several studies on contact lens wearers and established that proper hygiene such as washing hands before handling contact lenses and using unexpired lens care solutions are crucial to maintaining clean contact lens prior to using. Lastly, it is important that you are wearing the correct contact lenses; one that fits your eye needs.

Although contact lenses provide safe and effective vision correction for Americans, many experiencing CLI struggle to wear contact lenses on a daily basis. Contact lens intolerance can affect your vision and overall eye health. If you or someone you know to experience CLI, we have solutions for you. To learn more about contact lens intolerance or to schedule a consultation, please contact us at 800-393-3926 or click here

  • Cope JR, Collier SA, Nethercut H, Jones JM, Yates K, Yoder JS. Risk Behaviors for Contact Lens–Related Eye Infections Among Adults and Adolescents — United States, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:841–845.


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