These days, it’s easier than ever to wear and care for contact lenses. However, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that 99 percent of contact lens wearers have at some point engaged in bad habits that can lead to a painful eye infection and possibly even long-term vision damage.
Dr. Sandy T. Feldman is not surprised by the CDC’s latest findings. “I’ve probably seen it all over the years. Lenses that aren’t cleaned properly. Dirty lens cases. Reusing the same solution over and over. Sleeping with contacts, swimming with contacts, wearing disposable lenses far longer than they’re meant to be used. Any one of these things can put the health of the eyes at risk,” said Dr. Feldman.
The CDC report reveals that most contact lens wearers have been guilty of some form or another of questionable lens hygiene. Nearly one-third of the 1,000 lens wearers surveyed experienced a red or painful eye that required a visit to a doctor’s office. It’s estimated that more than 40 million people in the U.S. wear contacts.
Dr. Feldman offers some simple tips for caring for contact lenses:
- Clean lenses daily, using only recommended products for your type of lens.
- Clean the lens case daily and replace it every three months. Cases should be rinsed out with disinfecting contact lens solution and air-dried every day.
- Replace the disinfectant solution every time you store contact lenses in a case. Don’t re-use the same solution multiple days or “top off” old solution.
- Avoid wearing lenses when swimming or showering, which can lead to an eye infection caused by bacteria, fungus and even amoebas in the water. If vision is an issue, consider prescription goggles. If contacts are worn in water, they should be disinfected afterwards or thrown away if they are disposable lenses.
- Don’t attempt to extend the life of disposable contacts. This can result in a scratched cornea, allowing germs to infiltrate the eye and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Don’t go to sleep without removing contact lenses. This is one of the most common causes of eye infections.
- Use daily disposable contact lenses only as directed. Try to avoid the temptation to economize by wearing them beyond a day.
“Contact lenses are a great option for people who want freedom from glasses. However, it’s important to take good care of your contacts to avoid irritated eyes or an infection,” Dr. Feldman cautions. “It’s all too easy to cut corners to save some time, but that can really have a negative impact on the health of your eyes.”
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