Contact Lenses and Eye Infections

Contact Lenses and Eye Infections

Learn the safe way to wear contact lenses and prevent infection.

Understanding Contact Lens Infections: Protecting Your Vision

If you’re one of the 45 million Americans who rely on contact lenses for clear vision, you likely appreciate the convenience they offer as an alternative to glasses. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with contact lens wear, particularly the risk of eye infections.

The Risk of Contact Lens Infections

Contact lens wearers should be aware of the potential risk of eye infections, which can have serious consequences. According to the American Optometric Association, serious eye infections can affect up to one in every 500 contact lens users per year, with the potential to lead to blindness. Even minor infections can be painful and significantly disrupt daily life.

Understanding Keratitis and Its Causes

One of the most common eye infections associated with contact lens wear is keratitis. Keratitis occurs when the cornea, the clear dome covering the colored part of the eye, becomes infected. A particularly severe form of keratitis, known as microbial keratitis, can develop when harmful microorganisms invade the cornea. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes microbial keratitis as a severe eye infection that, in its most extreme cases, may require a corneal transplant.

Common causes of contact lens-related infections include:

  • Prolonged use of extended-wear lenses
  • Sleeping while wearing contact lenses
  • Exposure to bacteria, fungi, or parasites
  • Inadequate care of contact lenses and their storage cases

Recognizing the symptoms of contact lens-related infections is essential. These symptoms may include blurred vision, eye redness or irritation, heightened sensitivity to light, eye pain, and excessive tearing or discharge.

Preventing Contact Lens Infections

Preventing contact lens infections involves adopting healthy habits and best practices for safe contact lens wear. These practices can help protect your vision:

  • Avoid sleeping in your contact lenses unless specifically prescribed by your eye doctor. According to the CDC, sleeping with contact lenses increases the risk of eye infections by up to eightfold.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses.
  • Keep your contact lenses away from water sources to minimize the risk of introducing germs to your eyes. Remove lenses before swimming and avoid wearing them while showering.
  • Clean your lenses diligently using contact lens disinfecting solutions, and use fresh solution each time (avoid “topping off”).
  • Maintain the cleanliness of your contact lens case by using contact lens solution, not water.
  • Follow your eye doctor’s recommendations for replacing your lenses promptly.

If you notice any signs of infection, it’s essential to consult your eye doctor promptly to prevent potential complications. At Sterling Vision, our team of experienced optometrists, ophthalmologists, and specialists is well-equipped to provide effective treatments for various eye conditions. To schedule an appointment with us, please call 541-342-2201 or schedule online.