According to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are almost 41 million Americans older than 18 who wear contact lens regularly, 93% of whom wear soft contact lenses as opposed to rigid lenses. What’s most surprising is that nearly 99% of wearers have got into at least one risky habit related to contact lens hygiene thus increasing the possibility of developing eye infection or inflammation. Plus, over 30% have had to visit a doctor due to eye redness or pain inflicted by their contact lenses.
The findings of another online survey of 1,000 contact lens wearers revealed that over 50.2% (that’s more than a half!) have even slept with their lens on overnight, 87.1% have taken a nap with them on or 55.1% simply added more disinfecting solution into their case instead of cleaning them out first. Plus, 49.9% of wearers have continued using their lenses past the recommended date instead of replacing them; 82.3% have done the same for their case; 35.5% have cleaned their lenses with tap water, and 16.8% have in fact stored their lenses in tap water.
The Biggest Concerns
The study authors wrote “Of particular concern, contact lens wearers of all types frequently reported exposure of their contact lenses to water, including storing or rinsing their lenses in tap water and showering or swimming while wearing lenses. Exposure of lenses to water raises the risk for infection because microorganisms living in water can be transferred to the eye.”
“Even household tap water, although treated to be safe for drinking, is not sterile and contains microorganisms that can contaminate lens cases and contact lenses and cause eye infections.”
Lens wearers should be particularly aware of one of these microorganisms, the amoeba Acanthamoeba, which has been held accountable for a number of multistate outbreaks of serious eye infections among contact lens wearers over the past 10 years.
The authors made several recommendations in order to stay away from these habits: “Prevention efforts could include vigorous health promotion activities that encourage contact lens wearers to improve their hygiene behaviors, such as keeping all water away from contact lenses, discarding used disinfecting solution from the case and cleaning with fresh solution each day, and replacing their contact lens case every three months.”