Just fit the small, thin piece of round plastic over your cornea, and voila! The blurry world appears crystal clear once again. Contact lenses enable more than 30 million astigmatic, near-sighted, and far-sighted Americans to enjoy 20/20 vision conveniently and with a great deal of flexibility.
Beneficial as they are, contact lenses also pose potential risks if not used properly. Wearers who fail to wear, clean, and store them properly are at risk for an eye infection and corneal cancers.
Why should I be worried?
Eye irritation, dry eyes, watery eyes, redness or sensitivity to light may be a symptom of something more serious. Some of the potential hazards of improper use of contact lenses include:
- Corneal ulcer or microbial keratitis – A potentially blinding complication, bacterial keratitis is often caused by overnight contact lens wear. The disease progresses rapidly; some of the more virulent bacteria can destroy your sight in 24 to 48 hours.
- Dry eyes – Because contact lenses cover the surface of the eye, they restrict oxygen to the cornea. Wearers may experience itchiness, discomfort, and hazy vision.
- Corneal abrasion – When your cornea is scratched, you may experience pain, redness, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light. Corneal abrasions are often caused by dirty or poorly fitted contact lenses.
How do I avoid contact lens complications?
As long as you wear your lenses as recommended by your Houston eye doctor, have good hygiene, and observe proper care practices for cleaning, disinfecting, and storing lenses, you can reduce your risk of infection. More specifically:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Then dry with a clean towel before handling your lenses or touching your eyes.
- Never use tap water, your saliva, or homemade cleaning solution to clean your lenses. Use the cleaning solution prescribed by your optician.
- Never use contact lens solutions beyond their expiration dates.
- Always carry rewetting drops or artificial tears when going out to lubricate your eyes when they get dry.
- Never share eye makeup and use water-proof mascaras only. When your eyes are red, swollen, or infected, don’t use makeup at all.
- Don’t swim with your contacts in. Pools, lakes, rivers, and other natural bodies of water may be infested with amoeba, parasites, and other microbial organisms that can contaminate your lenses. Never shower with your contacts in.
At first signs of discomfort, Houston LASIK & Eye, a leading eye care facility in Houston, Texas, recommends that you immediately remove your contact lenses and contact an eye care professional for a check-up.
Is LASIK safer than contacts?
A study published in the October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology suggests that daily contact lens wearers face more risk of complications than patients who have undergone laser eye surgery. The researchers also concluded that contact lens wearers have a one in 2,000 chance of vision loss due to complications. With LASIK, the risk of vision loss is one in 10,000.
If you feel that laser eye surgery would be more beneficial for you, see an eye doctor to determine if you are a good candidate.