Around 3 million people in the UK wear contact lenses and they can provide a safe and effective way to correct vision when used with care and proper supervision – but you may not realise the full impact of the consequences if you don’t properly care for your contacts. [toc]
A recent news story uncovered the dangers of wearing contact lenses. A student tore away her cornea after leaving her lens in for 10 hours – two hours longer than the recommended limit – causing it to become stuck to her left eyeball. Although her vision is now back to what it was before the accident, she has a permanent scar on her pupil – and can’t wear a contact lens in her left eye. The scarring has also left her unsuitable for laser eye surgery.
What Are The Real Dangers of Contact Lenses?
For those that wear contact lenses, when you first started you probably had the best intentions and were vigilant about following the correct instructions, cleaning them properly and replacing them as directed by your eye doctor. However over time, has your contact lens care become lazy?
Focus Clinics very own Dr David Allamby says:
“Contact lenses need to be treated with great care and the dangers of using them are often underestimated and ignored.”
Care For Contact Lenses
Anyone who wears contacts should take care. Hands should be washed and thoroughly dried before putting in or removing lenses, lenses should never come into contact with water of any type, and always use recommended contact lens solution and never mix the fresh solution with the old.
Although the most vital aspect, the majority of people that wear contact lenses don’t use proper hygiene and that puts them at risk of eye infections, including inflammation of the cornea. Poor hygiene is a big risk factor, according to the American Centre for Disease Control (CDC) – with 99% of lens wearers reported at least one contact lens hygiene risk behaviour.
Dr Allamby says: “Around 1 in 3 contact lens wearers said they had suffered from a previous contact lens-related red or painful eye requiring a visit to a specialist. And just putting them in wrong can lead to bacteria building up behind the lens, leading to ulcers, abrasions, reduced vision and even blindness.”
“Studies have shown that you’re five times more likely to develop an eye infection if you wear contact lenses. “Research from Australia showed the chance each year of getting an infected corneal ulcer or abscess is 1 in 2000,” he adds.
Loss Of Vision From Contact Lenses Infections
“This might not sound like a lot but over 10 years of wearing contact lenses, this means there’s a 1 in 200 chance of a potentially serious or even sight-threatening infection. Compare that 1 in 200 chance with contact lenses to LASIK laser eye surgery, where the risk of infection is fifteen times lower at 1 in 3,000.”
Loss of vision from corneal infections can be permanent, depending on when the problem is diagnosed. If caught early and correctly treated, there may be little or no scarring and no sight loss. If left for a few days, permanent vision reduction may occur, especially with infections in the middle part of the cornea.
If you are worried about the dangers of wearing contact lenses, then it might be time to consider laser eye surgery. To find out more, download our laser eye surgery information pack.