A recent government study finds many wearers of contact lenses are not practicing safety precautions and are instead putting their eyes, and vision, at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 41 million Americans who use contact lenses admit to not following safety precautions when it comes to their lenses. Furthermore, one-third of wearers have had medical attention for a contact lens related problem which could have been avoided if safety steps were followed.
Researchers from the CDC conducted an online survey to uncover the habits of contact lens wearers. Nearly 99 percent of respondents reported partaking in at least one risky behavior.
What are these risky behaviors threatening the eyes of contact lens wearers? Well, based on feedback from the survey, four out of five respondents reported wearing contact lenses longer than the recommended time. More than half reported adding new solution to pre-used solution, and less than half go to sleep with their contact lenses still in.
These behaviors may not seem risky, but the CDC suggests such behavior increases a person’s risk of infection by five times.
The CDC has suggestions in order to protect your eyes and minimize infection. Their tips include:
- Wash hands before and after handling contact lenses
- Always remove lenses before sleep or entering water (shower included)
- After each removal clean lenses with new solution
- After use clean the contact lens case and dry thoroughly
- Replace contacts once every three months and carry glasses in case of emergency
Wearing contact lenses for an extended period of time – or while sleeping – minimizes the amount of oxygen which your eyes can receive. This can increase your risk of corneal ulcers, can scar your cornea or potentially lead to blindness.
You also need to be mindful of environmental pollutants such as pollen, hairspray, smog, etc., as they can have an affect on your contact lenses as well. Not only can pollutants dry out your eyes, but sometimes they can stick to the contacts. It’s still important to protect your eyes from the environment, even if you are wearing contact lenses.
Practicing safe behaviors when dealing with contact lenses will ensure you maintain healthy vision and minimize your risk of eye complications.
The findings were published in Morbidity and Mortality’s Weekly Report.