Do Contact Lenses Come with Potential Health Risks?

Do Contact Lenses Come with Potential Health Risks?

Many people choose to wear contact lenses for cosmetic reasons while others choose to wear them for comfort reasons. No matter what the motive, before you choose to wear contact lenses, make sure you are completely aware of the health risks that come along with them.

While some of the risks are minor, others are quite severe. They could even lead to blindness. Get to know the risks and find out about some natural alternatives to contact lenses.

Health Risks from Wearing Contact Lenses

Wearing contact lenses puts you at risk of developing several different eye conditions. One of the reasons this can happen is because all contact lenses reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your cornea. This can lead to different types of infection.

One of the biggest risks for contact wearers is developing corneal ulcers. Corneal ulcers are open sores on the covering of the eye. Other risks include corneal scratches/scrapes, changes in the cornea’s shape, swelling and infection of the cornea.

Besides problems with the cornea, other common risks include swelling of the eyes or eyelids, bumps under the eyelids, allergic reactions to contact solution, deposits on the lenses which can lead to a variety of eye infections, dry eyes, conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye), and general eye irritations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns, “These conditions can develop very quickly and can be very serious. In rare cases, these conditions can cause blindness.”

Do Contact Lenses Come with Potential Health Risks?Making the Risk Worse

There are several habits and choices people make that can make wearing contact lenses even more risky. One is touching the contact lens without washing your hands first. This is an opportunity for bacteria to be introduced into your eye. Wearing your contacts for long periods of time also increases your risk because the lens is keeping oxygen from getting to the eye even longer and makes corneal ulcers more likely.

Smoking is another way of increasing the risk of eye ailments with contacts. Smoking raises the risk of the wearer developing corneal ulcers by eight times. Swimming also increases your risk. Yes, that “sparkling clean” pool water can cause a lot of problems with your contacts. The risk of getting contaminated water into your eyes is very strong and the bacteria can stick to your lenses.

Symptoms of Contact Lens Problems

If you choose to wear contact lenses, be on the lookout for any of these symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your body is telling you that something is wrong. One of the first symptoms you might notice is blurred vision, which should be immediately reported to your doctor.

General eye discomfort is a symptom that may be monitored for a short period of time before calling your doctor. You should be looking for excessive tearing, discharge from the eyes or watery eyes. You should also be concerned if you have itching, burning or feel like there is sand or dirt in your eyes. Among the other symptoms which should be tended to are pain, redness in your eyes, sensitivity to light, and swelling.

When You Have Symptoms

If you already wear contacts and you experience any of the symptoms listed above, immediately remove the contact lenses from your eyes and do not put them back in. Then you should contact a doctor, preferably an eye doctor. Place your contact lenses back in a contact case. When you go to the doctor, make sure you take your contact lenses and any contact solution you are using with you to your appointment. It can help the doctor determine what is wrong with your eyes.

Contacts Not a Good Choice

There are several reasons why contacts may not be the best choice for you. If you suffer from arthritis, contacts may be too difficult for you to handle and insert or remove from your eye. People who have dry eyes are also not good candidates for contacts as they can dry out in your eyes and make the problem worse for you. Certain medical conditions also make you less likely to have success with contact lenses such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, asthma, allergies and other respiratory conditions.

Alternatives to Contact Lenses

Of course the first alternative that people think about for contact lenses is eye glasses, but did you know that you can actually improve the condition of your eyes (in most situations) through proper care of your eyes? This includes diet, exercise and protection.

The foods which are best suited for you depend on the eye condition you suffer from. Obviously an overall healthy diet is the best choice, so check out this list of the essential vitamins, mineral and herbs for healthy eyes.

Overall exercise can help keep your blood pressure in check and fend off some eye ailments. Just like the rest of your body, you need to build those eye muscles. Regular cardio can really do wonders for the eyes.

Finally, protect your eyes! This means in any way you can protect your eyes from harm, you should make sure you are. Wear safety glasses whenever there is a risk of eye injury. Wear UVA/UVB sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat to keep your eyes from sun damage. Protect your eyes from eyestrain by taking regular breaks when working for long periods of time in front of a computer. Try not to rub your eyes as this is often how bacteria are introduced into your eyes (from your hands/fingers).

A few easy changes in your life can make a big difference. You just have to know where to start!

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About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics (just like his brother) with the dream of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he joined 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 nearly two decades studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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