CDC Reports that 99% of Contact Lens Wearers Are Putting Eyes at Risk

CDC Reports that 99% of Contact Lens Wearers Are Putting Eyes at Risk

Contact lenses are no doubt the most convenient kinds of corrective lenses. They’re perfect for sports, dance, or for people who always need to wear eyeglasses and prefer the freedom of contact lenses. Their convenience makes contact lenses easy to forget about. But, the CDC reports 99 percent of contact lens wearers have admitted to being less than careful when it comes to the hygiene of their contacts.

Contacts need more care than eyeglasses as the lens comes directly into contact with your eye. If not cleaned properly contact lenses can carry dirt and bacteria that may cause uncomfortable and irritating eye infections. The best way to avoid this is to wholly understand contact lenses and how to use them responsibly.

Types of Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are lenses that you insert (using your fingers) under your eyelids and rest on your eyeball. They are prescription lenses that are generally used as a replacement to regular eyeglass wear. Like eyeglasses, there are many different types of contact lenses. There are generally four types.

First up are soft contact lenses. These contact lenses are the most popular and the more expensive in the long run as they need frequent replacing. They are made of soft plastic materials that are flexible to provide a comfortable fit. These contacts breathe well, allowing oxygen to flow through the cornea of the eye. These soft contacts are popular because they are easily adjustable.

Next we have rigid gas permeable (or RGP) contact lenses. These lenses are, well, rigid. They’re more resilient than soft contact lenses, but are less comfortable to wear. But because of their higher durability, RGP lenses give clearer and crisper vision. Though they may be less comfortable at the beginning, after a week or so, you’ll barely even notice them. They also last longer than soft contact lenses.

It used to be that contacts were meant to be taken out before bed and placed in a solution to be cleaned overnight. However, extended wear contact lenses are special lenses meant to be worn from six to 30 days continuously. These contacts generally come as soft contact lenses, but can be made special as RGP lenses if that’s your preference. Though these lenses have been FDA approved it is not recommended by a lot of eye specialists.

Disposable contact lenses are a little misleading in terms of its name. Many soft contact lenses are made disposable, meaning they are meant to be worn once and discarded. Rather, many of these supposedly disposable lenses work on the premise of a replacement schedule. This is to say that the lenses are replaced every two to four weeks depending on the type of lenses. They are not meant to be worn continuously, but are meant to be taken out overnight and washed.

Contact Lens Related Infections and Their Causes

Your eyes are a complex organ, so complex in fact, that doctors have yet to fully understand how they work. This makes caring for these organs a sometimes difficult task. Being so exposed and sensitive, we have to be careful around our eyes. The littlest things will cause infections that may not be our fault, such as getting sand or dust blown into them accidentally.

However when it comes to contact lenses, there are no “accidents”. Taking care of lenses is not rocket science. It may be tedious and annoying, but it is essential to the health of your fragile eyes.CDC Reports that 99% of Contact Lens Wearers Are Putting Eyes at Risk

Symptoms for contact lens related infections are:

  • Redness in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain/discomfort
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Light sensitivity

If you wear contact lenses and experience two or more of these symptoms, take your contacts out immediately and make an appointment with your eye doctor.

The most common eye infection due to contact lenses is keratitis. Keratitis is an infection of the cornea, which if left untreated can lead to scarring of the cornea and impaired vision. The main causes of this infection are bacteria, fungus, and sometimes herpes. It is not a fun infection to have.

The leading cause of contact lens related infections is poor or neglectful care. It’s normal to stop caring for something that you use daily. We’ve all done it. For example you have a new shiny bike. The first few weeks, you keep it spotless, then one day you roll through some mud by mistake, then if happens again and again and eventually you stop caring about how dirty it gets.

You can’t have the same mentality when it comes to your contact lenses. They aren’t something that can be hosed down in the backyard. They need care and they need to be cleaned. Don’t let laziness affect your long term vision. It isn’t worth it.

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How to Properly Care for Contact Lenses

There are a number of things to do in order to keep your contact lenses clean and safe for wear. Though the list may seem long, caring for your lenses doesn’t have to be a chore. If you find that they may be too much to handle, consider switching to glasses which require less maintenance.

Here are some tips for healthy contacts:

  • Never sleep with your contacts (unless advised otherwise by a professional)
  • Replace contact lenses as directed or every three months
  • Wash out contact lens case and replace the solution every night (don’t just add new solution on top of last night’s)
  • Never clean with water
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in water (for example: showers, pools, lakes or oceans, etc.)

Contact lenses can be the best thing that ever happened to you, or the worse. Your experience with contacts is up to you. Take care of them, and you’ll live happily ever after with your contacts. Don’t take care of them, and you can end up with some permanent eye damage.

About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics with the dreams of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he and his brother decided to start Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent over a decade studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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3 responses to “CDC Reports that 99% of Contact Lens Wearers Are Putting Eyes at Risk”

  1. Avatar for Maya Maya says:

    I wore contact lenses almost 17 years together with glasses. I had a few years break after laser operation but my vision deteriorated and I had to get back to glasses and lenses. I exercised and got rid of glasses but not for long. It seems like an ongoing lifetime process. Until 4 years ago when I visited Bali and I swam in the sea with them followed by dancing in the rain and getting some rainwater in my eye. I tpok out the lense within half an hour but eye was red and itchy still the next day. I was blinded by 36 hours and in utter pain. No proper medical care was around and I was told by local doctors that it is just conjuctivitis and pretty normal to get in the area. To cut long story short, i flew back to Europe in fever and pain and spent a month in the hospital fighting for life as the bacteria was aiming for the brain. The eye had to be removed and now i have a prosthetic one, seeing only with one. Contact lenses can be pretty dangerous stuff and i warn people now. I was careful with solution and cleaning, also washing my hands etc but this still happened to me. Just to say i am still living a good life and most people don’t even notice my impairment. It has changed me as a person and I feel I have grown spiritually a lot.

  2. Avatar for Peter Jones Peter Jones says:

    What is the best recommend contact lens cleaner and lens drops on todays market?

    Thank you

  3. Avatar for Janet Janet says:

    Hi Maya,
    Are you able to see good out of the prosthetic eye?

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