Have you ever had the experience of leaving the eye doctor’s office with a great contact lens – excellent comfort and perfect vision – only to have the vision and comfort take a marked turn for the worse a few days or weeks later?

As  Optometrists, we’ve seen this issue present itself many times.  The lenses perform and move beautifully on the eye in office, but a few days later we’ll get a phone call from the patient that they need to be seen because their lenses “don’t fit.”  What changed?  New research shows that the products we use around our eyes, from makeup to face wash and makeup remover, can cause significant changes to both the physical shape and performance of contact lenses.

How Does Makeup or Makeup Removers Come in Contact With Your Contact Lenses?

Makeup applied to the waterline can easily transfer onto your contact lenses. The waterline is where our tear glands (called Meibomian glands) sit, so every time you blink, these glands release oils that spread over the surface of the eye, transferring any makeup applied to the area with them.

You may be surprised to hear that contact lenses can be affected by your normal skincare products, because they typically aren’t coming into contact with each other directly. No one rinses their contact lenses with makeup remover, or coats them with mascara purposefully (or if you do, you’d expect them to be extremely uncomfortable as a result!).

The overwhelming majority of the time, contact lenses are exposed to makeup and soaps by accident when you are either inserting or removing your contact lens. Sometimes makeup or face wash residue is still on our hands when we touch our lenses, or if you are wearing your contact lenses when you apply eye makeup like mascara or eyeliner, small amounts of it can easily transfer into your eye and stick to the surface of the contact lens. The majority of monthly and biweekly disposable contact lenses are made from materials called silicone hydrogel, and the silicone in these lenses that helps make the contact lens more breathable is also very attracted to oils. Makeup and makeup removers are primarily oil based products, and once they come into contact with a contact lens, they bind tightly and are next to impossible to remove even with the strongest contact lens cleaners.

To best prevent makeup from sticking to your contact lens and causing blurry vision, redness, or build up on the lens, try this technique:

1. Apply all of your makeup
2. Wash your hands thoroughly
3. Instill a rewetting drop to rinse makeup particles off your eye.
4. Insert your contact lens.

By applying your makeup first and then using an artificial tear drop to rinse stray makeup particles away from the eye’s surface, it’s less likely that you’ll inadvertently transfer makeup onto the contact lens.

What Makeup And Face wash Can Do to Your Contact Lens

A study was performed looking more specifically at the changes these makeup and skincare products can have on the physical size, shape, and optical properties of a contact lens, and guess what?  Statistically significant contact lens changes were found in both diameter (or size) of the lenses, base curve (or shape), and power (or prescription) of the lenses in this study. The degree of change relative to the baseline measurements was compared with the ISO standards for contact lenses, which suggests tolerance limits of +/-0.20 mm for lens diameter, +/-0.20 mm for base curve, and +/-0.25 D for lens power.  NOT. GOOD. and NO. LONGER. WHAT. THE. DOCTOR. PRESCRIBED.
What Problems Do Makeup Removers Cause? Research shows these products primarily affect the fit of the contact lens by changing base curve and diameter.
The makeup removers used were:


Contact lens edge distortion caused by exposure of samfilcon A lens to Neutrogena Oil-Free Makeup Remover via

What Problems Do Mascaras Cause? These products primarily affect image quality and vision by leaving deposits on the contact lenses that are almost impossible to remove, therefore changing the base curve; lens movement and centration of the contact lens on the eye could be affected

The mascaras used were:
So—- this is what we think —During the normal course of wear, contact lenses can be exposed to numerous facial and cosmetic products that can significantly impact the comfort and visual performance of the lens. Properly cleaning your contact lenses may help recover some of the parameter changes caused by different cosmetics to some degree. However, particularly mascara may still affect image quality and liquid eye makeup removers may affect lens fit.

If you are struggling with contact lens performance, changing to a daily disposable contact lens and limiting exposure of the lens to cosmetic products may greatly increase lens comfort, vision, and wearing time. Avoiding waterproof mascaras and tightlining with eyeliner can also help minimize contact lens contamination.

The best solution? Changing to daily disposable lenses can make sure that your contact lenses perform the same every day!

BIO true one Day lenses Maple Grove Eye Doctors at Pearle Vision