Contact Lenses – Can they be Dangerous?
Ask almost anyone who uses contact lenses and they’ll tell you; it’s quite a hassle. The process of keeping your lenses clean and properly cared for is not easy. Plus, you have to make sure you take them out every night before you go to sleep. Those nights of falling asleep on the couch while watching a late night show are not the best for your eyes if you didn’t take your lenses off!
Most people have the best intentions to take care and look after their contact lenses properly. Sometimes, however, life can get in the way and you may tend to slack off. It happens to the best of us. In fact, a recent study done by the American CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found that over 99 percent of the participants reported at least one type of risky action when using contact lenses.
The Dangers of Contact Lenses
Most people are not aware that less than ideal contact lens hygiene can actually be dangerous! Contact lenses are medical devices that come with prescriptions and professional advice, customised to your specific requirements. If you fail to wear, care and store your contact lenses the correct way, it can have serious implications.
Germs and Infections
Wearing your contact lenses too long or sleeping with them, or not cleaning them properly can lead to germs invading your cornea (the clear film protecting the coloured part of your eye). In most cases, we’re likely to just brush it off, thinking it’s just a slight itch or minor irritation, but it could lead to a serious infection. In fact, contact lens wear is linked to a higher risk of keratitis, which results in an inflammation of the cornea, and can lead to pain, blindness and the need for a corneal transplant via surgery.
Other Serious Complications of Improper Contact Lens Use Include:
Eye allergies, corneal abrasion (where the cornea is scratched or damaged by a broken piece of lens), giant papillary conjunctivitis (painful bumps under the eyelid), corneal infiltrates (irritation, inflammation and possible infection of the cornea), contact lens-induced acute red eye (called CLARE, this results in irritated, red eyes), neovascularisation (new blood vessels growing onto the cornea), and dry eyes—these are all possible problems you may experience if you use contact lenses and neglect the required care.
Water and Contact Lenses
Water and contact lenses should be kept far away from each other. This means no showering, swimming or hot tubs with contact lenses on. In reality, some of us will even clean and store our contact lenses using water when we don’t have the solution readily available! Water can change the shape of your lenses, making them uncomfortable and a poor fit, which can scratch the cornea. In addition to making it easier for germs to invade, the water itself is not germ-free!