Hello and thanks for your question. Your story sounds quite classic for inflammation in your eyelids and consequently your cornea which is caused by bacteria in your tear film and exacerbated by your contact lens use. To have inflammation in the eyelids and bacteria in your tear film is very common. Some people can get the type of inflammation that it sounds like you have without using contact lenses at all, but wearing the contact lenses just exacerbates the situation.
The contact lens keeps oxygen from getting to the cornea and the cornea then starts to have inflammation and possibly even an infection. If you are wearing the same type of contact lens for many years, it is likely that you have a contact lens that doesn't have a very high oxygen permeability to it (unlike some of the newer contact lenses on the market). If there is no infection, and only inflammation related to contact lens use, then staying out of the contacts for several days, combined with the use of a combination antibiotic/steroid drop use would be a reasonable treatment regimen. If this inflammation is from a relative lack of oxygen from your current, but older brand of contact lenses, then you would probably do well to get an updated prescription for one of the newer contact lenses that let more oxygen in. That would allow you to stay in your contact lenses as you currently do with less chance of inflammation.
There are a good many optometrists who would catch this, but there are just as many who would not because they routinely deal less with the medical diseases of the eye than an ophthalmologist does. I would recommend going to see an ophthalmologist who can diagnose the particular type of inflammation occurring in your eyes; I would not return to an optometrist for this.
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My opinion is solely informative and does not constitute a formal medical opinion or recommendation. For a formal medical opinion and/or recommendation you must see an eye doctor.