Common Bad Habits of Contact Lens Wearers Can Lead to Blindness
Dr. Sean Edelstein, M.D. a Saint Louis University assistant professor of ophthalmology and SLUCare physician warns contact lens wearers that some shortcuts and bad habits taken by those who have worn contact lenses for years are at risk of letting their eye care habits result in eye disease that could lead to blindness.
In a news release issued by St. Louis University, poor contact lens habits that are common among many contact lens wearers can lead to corneal ulceration and/or serious bacterial infection with strains of pseudomonas and staphylococcus bacteria. Difficult to treat fungal infections are a risk as well, all of which can lead to “endophthalmitis”—a serious condition involving inflammation within the eyeball that has the symptoms of decreased vision, pain, redness and swelling of the eyelids. In worst case scenarios, prolonged inflammation can lead to permanent blindness in an eye.
“While contacts are generally very safe, wearers should know that poor contact care can lead to serious health issues,” said Dr. Edelstein, who specializes in cornea and external disease of the eye. “Unfortunately, I usually see patients after they’ve developed contact lens related infections or inflammation.
Among the more common bad habits of contact lens wearers are taking shortcuts such as:
• Using lens solutions that have gone beyond the expiration or discard date.
• Reusing leftover contact lens solution in the case and “topping-off” with new solution.
• Exposure of contact lenses to any non-sterile water or even saliva when a contact lens slips and the proper solution is not readily available.
To remind contact lens users about the importance of good lens/eye care, the FDA offers the following do’s and don’ts of contact lens care:
What Not to Do
• Never spit on your lenses to clean them.
• Never use tap water, bottled water, or salt water made at home to store or rinse your lenses. It can cause infections.
• Never mix different cleaners or drops.
• Never let lotions, creams, or sprays touch your lenses.
• Don't use eyeliner on the inside of your lower eyelid.
• Never wear lenses when you swim or go into a hot tub.
• Never wear your lenses when you are using cleaning products.
• Never wear daily-wear lenses when you sleep--not even during a nap.
• Never wear your lenses longer than your eye doctor tells you to.
What To Do
• Wash and rinse your hands before touching your lenses.
• Use only the lens cleaners and eye drops that your eye doctor suggests.
• Follow the directions that came with your lenses, lens cleaner, and eye drops.
• Take care of your lens case. Clean, rinse, and dry it each time you take out the lenses. Get a new case every six months.
• Get your eye doctor's OK when using any new or different medicines. Tell your doctor about things you can buy without a prescription, like eye drops or lens cleaners.
• Use eye makeup that is safe for contact lens users.
• Take out your lenses and call your eye doctor right away if your vision changes, if your eyes are red, if your eyes hurt or feel itchy or if you have a lot of tears.
“Eye redness, pain, sensitivity to light and blurry vision are symptoms that suggest something is wrong. In this scenario, you should immediately remove your contact lens and see an eye care professional," advises Dr. Edelstein.
Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile
St. Louis University news release
FDA: For Consumers—Contact Lens Care