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Poor contact lens care leads to a million eye infections each year in the United States

Poor contact lens care leads to a million eye infections each year in the United States

Monday, November 17, 2014
Author: Jacksonville Eye Center

Many contact lens wearers will admit that there have been times that they've fallen asleep in their lenses or have even worn a pair of contacts longer than they were prescribed to do so. Some even admit to substituting water for contact lens solution in desperation. If you're one of the 38 million Americans who wear contact lenses, chances are you've probably been guilty of one of these bad habits. 

You're not alone. According to new numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans make nearly one million doctor appointments and emergency room visits each year due to eye infections. Many of these infections are caused by improper use and care of contact lenses. 

If you wear contacts, you know how easy it can be to take short cuts when it comes to care. Most people have found themselves in a tricky situation where they have to deal with an errant lens with no contact solution in sight. Not to mention that once you get away with sleeping your contacts once, you'll probably be more apt to do it again. Granted, some lenses are designed and approved for continuous, overnight wear, but even those lenses should be removed whenever possible for cleaning and to let your eyes rest. But just because you can wear such lenses overnight doesn't mean that you always should. 

"People who wear contact lenses overnight are more than 20 times more likely to get Keratitis," said Jennifer Cope a medical epidemiologist at the CDC. "Wearing contacts and not taking care of them properly is the single biggest risk factor for Keratitis."

Keratitis is an eye infection of the cornea that is far from pleasant. The infection occurs when germs invade the cornea, resulting in a clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye. It causes inflammation, pain, scarring of the cornea and can even lead to blindness. 

Depending on how early it is diagnosed and what type of bacteria is causing it, doctors can easily treat the infection. Seemingly harmless behaviors such as not replacing your contact lens case often enough can lead to infection. It is recommended that users replace their case every three months. 

Treating eye infections can not only be an uncomfortable experience, but they can also turn out to be quite expensive. The CDC estimates that the cost of a doctor's visit for Keratitis is about $151 on average; each emergency room visit costs an average of $587. Overall in the US, Keratitis is responsible for $175 million in direct costs. 

Here are some effective ways to prevent possible infections: 

  • Take your contacts out before going to bed, taking a shower or going swimming. 
  • Rub and rinse contact lenses in disinfecting solution each time you remove them. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them thoroughly before touching your contact lenses. 
  • Rub and rinse your contact lens case with contact lens solution, dry with a clean tissue and store upside down with the caps off after each use. 
  • Do not top off your contact lens case with solution. 
  • Replace your contact lens case at least once every three months. 
  • Carry a backup pair of glasses in case your contacts have to be taken out. 

Another solution to preventing infection would be laser vision correction with Dr. Robert Schnipper, one of the most experienced and trusted LASIK surgeons in the region, at Jacksonville Eye Center. Only the latest technology is used at Jacksonville Eye Center to ensure the best visual outcomes. If you are ready to reduce or even eliminate your dependency on glasses and contact lenses, call us today at (904) 355-5555 to learn more about LASIK laser vision correction. 

 



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