Contact LensesThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say, around 41 million people in the United States wear contact lenses.  Among them, nearly one-third have sought medical care for potentially preventable problems such as painful infection or red eyes.  However, these symptoms could be much worse…

Recent news has reported a case that left a man blind after sleeping with his contact lenses in.  The Ohio man became blind in one eye after working all day and sleeping all night without removing his contact lenses.   And, even though some contacts are now made to be worn while you sleep, a new report presented by the CDC, reveals nearly all contact lens wearers embark on risky behavior involving their contacts. Such behavior can increase a person’s risk of eye infections and complications related to contact lenses.  

The report evaluated a national survey from about 1,000 contact lens wearers ages 18 and over, with roughly 93 percent saying they use some variety of soft contacts.  The study was published in an August issue of the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Napping while wearing contact lenses ranked as the most common offense with more than 87 percent of those surveyed saying they’d fallen asleep with them in.
  • More than 50 percent said they’d slept throughout the night with contact lenses and even though some lenses are approved for overnight wear, CDC warns that sleeping in any kind of lenses could increase the risk of infection.  Similarly, the American Academy of Ophthalmology believes that such kinds of contact lenses may elevate the risk of individuals to develop infections.
  • About 85 percent said they’d showered with contact lenses in, and 61 percent reported going swimming with them.
  • Close to 1 million health care consultations are due to keratitis or inflammation of the cornea or complications due to the use of contact lenses.  These visits come are estimated to cost around $175 million.
  • Storing or rinsing lenses in tap water and showering or swimming while wearing lenses exposes the lenses to dangerous bacteria.

contact lensSo, What Should You Do?:

The CDC outlined the following ways contact lens wearers can reduce their risk of eye infections.  The organization recommends:

  • Washing hands with soap and water and drying them well before touching contact lenses;
  • Taking out contacts out before sleeping, showering or swimming;
  • Rubbing and rinsing contacts in disinfecting solution each time they are removed; and,
  • Rinsing the case with contact lens solution, drying it and storing it upside down with the caps off after each use.