The importance of proper care and handling of contact lenses is often underestimated by contact lens wearers. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why shouldn’t I extend the life of my contacts by wearing them a few extra days?” or said “It’s so much more convenient to sleep in my contacts than to take the time to remove them every night.” Or maybe, “I’m almost out of contact lens care solution. If I reuse it I can make it last a little longer.”
Acting on any of those thoughts could have life changing consequences.
Each of the above actions could result in the growth of harmful bacteria in the eye. An infection in the eye can lead to partial or even total vision loss. Contact lens wearers should be informed of the risks of poor contact lens care. The consequences of becoming lazy in your contact lens care habits can be quite severe! In September The Wall Street Journal printed an article warning people of the dangers of bad lens care habits.
Within the article was an account of a woman who suffered for her poor contact lens habits. 48 year old Shan Lusk did as many people do, she slept in her lenses, showered in them, and kept them well past the expiration date. This is not uncommon among contact lens wearers, despite all the recommendations by doctors and optometrists. For Lusk, her bad habits did catch up with her. She developed a corneal ulcer which became infected. Although her doctor was able to treat her and clear up the infection, she was left with a permanent scar on her cornea. This scarring has left Shan with reduced night vision.
Another account within the article was even more graphic in nature. Chad Groeschen, a contractor who also was in the habit of sleeping in his lenses, took them out one day after work because of an irritant. He awoke the next morning to discover that he could not see out of that eye. Groeschen was diagnosed with an eye infection called Pseudomonas. Even after being treated with the proper course of antibiotics Chad can only see light and shapes out of the affected eye.
According to USA Today 99% of people who wear contact lenses have at least one bad habit when it comes to the care and use of their lenses. Many Americans, like Lusk and Groeschen, are in the habit of sleeping in their lenses, even though this is not recommended by professionals. Most people who are in the habit of sleeping in their lenses do so in order to be able to see in the instance of having to get up in the night. Some simply like the convenience of not having to take them out and put them back in each morning and night. Despite the reasoning, the risks for doing so remain the same.
Don’t make the same mistakes. You may end up sacrificing your sight for the sake of convenience. Instead, follow your optometrist’s guidelines for proper lens care. Disinfect daily, using fresh contact lens solution. Always wash your hands prior to handling your lenses. Heed the expiration date located on the lens box and follow your optometrist’s wearing instructions. For a full list of guidelines on contact lens care visit: The American Academy of Ophthalmology.