Millions of people wear contact lenses as they appear to be much more comfortable and esthetic than frame lenses. However, the use of contact lenses must go hand in hand with great responsibility and a sense of cleanliness, as these lenses carry the risk of causing eye infections because people who wear them often tend to use them all day long without any rest. There are individuals that use them even in their sleep!
Contact lenses are thin, transparent discs, made of two different materials: hydrogel and silicone hydrogel. We can find two types of lenses, according to our eye refraction: soft or rigid lenses. An eye exam performed by an ophthalmologist is needed to know which kind of lenses are better for each patient.
They are used to improve vision just like glasses:
- Nearsightedness: an ocular disorder that produces a blurred or unclear vision of distant objects.
- Farsightedness: visual acuity is better at far (e.g. 6 meters) distances than near.
- Astigmatism: common imperfection in the curvature of the eyes.
- Presbyopia: Inability to see nearby objects clearly due to lens stiffness, age-related.
Infections caused by contact lenses
There are many complications that the contact lens wearer may experience. Here we mention some risky behaviors that could end up in an eye infection:
- Napping, showering, sleeping while wearing contact lenses.
- Not replacing contact lens cases as frequently as recommended.
- “Topping off” contact lens solution.
Letting germs accumulate under the lenses Most common signs of contact lenses problems:
- Pain in the eye.
- Blurry vision.
- Unusual redness of the eye.
- Contact lens intolerance: feeling like there is something in your eye.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Excessive tearing.
Acanthamoeba keratitis is mainly associated with swimming with contact lenses, a rapid eye infection that causes ulceration of the cornea and could cause blindness in very severe cases.
Easy 6 steps to avoid eye infection due to contact lens wear:
- Rub: Wash your hands before cleaning your contacts. Rub the lenses between your fingers for 20 seconds before using a cleaning solution.
- Rinse: Rinse lenses in store-bought solutions, do not use water to clean them.
- Replace: It is recommended that you replace the contact lens case at least 3 times a year.
- Renew: Don’t try to extend the life of your contacts by wearing them too long. Only keep lenses as long as your prescriber recommends. (1, 15, 30 days)
- Rest: From time to time, give your eyes a break from your contact lenses.
- Checkup: it is a good idea to keep your eyes healthy, so it is recommended to get a checkup with your ophthalmologist when he tells you to.
As we have mentioned, eye infections from contact lenses can cause severe vision loss, or in some cases, severe vision loss and even blindness. Therefore, it is very important and recommended that you consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible in case of feeling the mentioned symptoms. As well as hygiene, safe handling, and storage of contact lenses are advised, in this way you can reduce the risks of a severe infection.
Dr. Itzel Pérez Gudiño graduated from the La Salle University Mexican School of Medicine where she studied for a degree in Surgeon. She did her Ophthalmology Specialty at Hospital de la Ceguera and has a Diploma in Humanism that she studied at the Mexican School of Medicine at La Salle University. Dr. Itzel is a specialist in Refractive Surgery (Cataract and LASIK) and Refraction Study (Prescription of aerial and contact lenses).