Potential Serious Eye Infections Caused By Contact Lenses
Contact lenses can enhance many people’s way of living, and acceptance among peers, and friends. Contact lenses are medical devices that are worn directly on the cornea of the eye. They help correct refractive errors which is a vision problem that makes it hard to see clearly as eyeglasses do. The refractive error occurs when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing correctly on the retina which is a light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye. However, both correct the refractive error by adding or subtracting focusing power to the eye’s cornea and lens. The two types of contact lenses are soft and rigid gas permeable hard lenses, and they have distinct advantages. Some lenses come with a color tint, ultraviolet protection, or as bifocals.
The CDC encourages optometrists and others to raise awareness about the value of healthy contact lens hygiene practices. This is important because people should know how to protect themselves against serious eye infections, and other illnesses through awareness and best practice protocols specific to proper contact lens hygiene. There are three key areas (CDC):
- Healthy contact lens wear and care hygiene practices
- Improper contact lenses use and the risk
- Regular visits to an eye care provider
How Long Can You Wear Contact Lenses?
There is no maximum age limit as to when an individual must stop wearing contact lenses. As you age throughout your life the contact lens prescription may change just as your eyeglasses prescription does. However, there are times when certain conditions like presbyopia may require an individual to wear multifocal contact lenses to aid with reading and enhance their ability to see. Presbyopia is a gradual loss of your eye’s ability to focus on nearby objects. The design of continuous wear lenses allows for continuous wear. It is important to note they carry a potential risk for infection. The infection may result in a risk for neovascularization which is the formation of new blood vessels due to a low level of oxygen availability. The FDA allows continuous wear lenses to be worn for up to 30 nights.
Consumer Goods and FSMG reports that the global market for contact lenses was approximately 11.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, and will grow to about 19.45 billion U.S. dollars by 2024. The United States accounts for the vast majority of the revenue generated by the worldwide contact lenses market.
The CDC Reports That:
- Approximately 45 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses
- Female represents two-thirds of contact lens wearers
- The average age globally contact lens wearers worldwide is 31 years old
- Approximately 8% of contact lens wearers are under 18 years old, 17% are between ages 18-24, and 75% of adults age 25 and older wear contacts
Benefits of Contact Lenses (Source: CDC):
- Contact lenses are one of several effective options that people use to improve their vision. There are other options and no single method is the best solution for everyone
- People see better when wearing contact lenses without affecting their lifestyle; appearance or interfering with many sports and activities.
- Image and acceptance. Some children and teens report feeling dramatically better about their appearance when wearing contact lenses
- Wearing glasses, and children switching to contact lenses saw a significant improvement in the areas of perceived appearance, participation in activities, and satisfaction with vision correction.
- Specially designed contact lenses can improve the ability to focus and temporarily reduce poor distance vision (near-sightedness) in certain contact lens wearers.
Contact lenses risk factors (Source: CDC)
- Serious eye infection: 1 out of 500 contact lenses users each year suffers from serious eye infections which can lead to blindness
- Potential for serious eye infection if you do not adhere to the proper contact lens care instructions which may result in outbreaks of serious eye infections.
- 40%-90% of the contact lens wearers do not properly follow the contact lenses care instructions
- About 90% of contact lens users may experience at least one contact lens hygiene behavior previously associated with an increased risk of eye infection or inflammation.
- Improper cleaning and irregular replacement of contact lenses and contact lens cases—as well as other behaviors relating to contact lens hygiene and care—have been linked to a higher risk of complications,
- Keratitis—a painful eye infection often linked to improper contact lens use—leads to 1 million doctor and hospital visits annually, for $175 million to the US healthcare system.
Contact us to schedule an appointment so that we can discuss contact lenses and your vision health.