The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that the misuse of contact lenses such as using them for too long or sleeping with them in place can cause serious eye injuries.
Researchers say that eye damage occurs in over 20 percent of contact lens-related eye infections declared to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over 10 years.
Contact lenses are considered medical devices and can be worn to correct vision, or for cosmetic or therapeutic reasons. When compared with spectacles, contact lenses typically provide better peripheral vision, and do not collect moisture (from rain, snow, condensation etc.) or perspiration; this makes them ideal for sports and other outdoor activities. Users can also wear sunglasses, goggles, or other eyewear of their choice without having to fit them with prescription lenses or worry about compatibility with glasses. When used properly they are an excellent method of vision correction.
Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City believes that many of 41 million contact lens users in the United States do not take contact lens hygiene seriously enough. Moreover, they do not consider the contacts as a medical device placed on the surface of their eye.
In the study, more than 1,100 cases of eye infections related to contact lens use reported to the FDA between 2005 and 2015 were analyzed by the CDC researchers.
Roughly one in five patients required a corneal transplant, had scarred cornea or other types of eye damage because of the infection. More than 10 percent of the patients had to go to the emergency room or needed urgent care clinic for immediate treatment. Specialists believe that although this is a small percentage of those who wear contact lens, they are a reminder to all contact lens users to take simple but important steps to prevent infections.
While the majority of the infections are minor they can still be very painful or need daily visits to eye doctors or hourly administered eye drops to be treated.
The risk of developing an infection increases by six to eight times while wearing contact lenses during sleep. It’s also important to replace your contacts as often as recommended by eye doctors. The failure to do so increases the risk of eye infections.