Contact Lenses and Eye Infections
Learn the safe way to wear contact lenses and prevent infection.
A Closer Look at Contact Lenses
If you’re one of the 45 million Americans who wear contact lenses, you probably enjoy the convenient alternative to glasses. But wearing contact lenses comes with the risk of infection.
Serious eye infections can lead to blindness and affect up to one out of every 500 contact lens users per year. Even minor infections can be painful and disrupt daily life, according to the American Optometric Association.
Contact Lens Infection
The most common eye infection from wearing contact lenses is keratitis, which happens when the cornea (clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye) becomes infected. One type of keratitis, called microbial keratitis, can occur when germs invade the cornea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), microbial keratitis is a serious type of eye infection that can lead to blindness or the need for corneal transplant in the most severe cases.
Some causes of infection include:
- Overusing extended-wear lenses
- Sleeping in your contact lenses
- Bacteria, fungi, or parasites
- Improper care of contact lenses and cases
Symptoms of contact lens-related infections can include blurry vision, redness or irritation of the eye, extra sensitivity to light, eye pain, and tearing or discharge from the eye.
Preventing Contact Lens Infections
Clean and safe handling of contact lenses are among the easiest and most important things contact lens wearers can do to protect their vision.
Healthy habits to safely wear contact lenses:
- Don’t sleep in your contact lenses unless prescribed by your eye doctor. Sleeping while wearing contact lenses has been shown to cause up to eight times greater risk of an eye infection, according to the CDC.
- Wash your hands before handling your lenses.
- Keep contact lenses away from water, which can introduce germs to the eyes; remove contact lenses before swimming and avoid wearing them when showering.
- Clean your lenses properly with contact lens disinfecting solution and use fresh solution (don’t “top off” solution).
- Keep your contact lens case clean by using contact lens solution (not water).
- Get new lenses when recommended.
Follow your eye doctor’s instructions to properly wear, clean and store your contact lenses. If you do have signs of infection, it’s important to see your doctor to prevent complications. Sterling Vision includes experienced optometrists, ophthalmologists, and other specialists capable of delivering effective treatments for a variety of eye conditions. To schedule an appointment with us, call 541-262-0597 or schedule online.