In the United States, 40 million people use contact lenses to improve their vision. While most of these contact lens wearers adhere to the guidelines set out by their doctors, many do not. According to the American Optometric Association‘s annual American Eye-Q® survey, many people are putting their health and vision at risk by not following the recommendations of their eye care professionals.
According to the study, a majority of contact lens wearers overwear their lenses. This comes as no surprise to me, as a clear majority of my patients tell me they don’t follow the recommended replacement schedule. Even more alarming, more than twenty-five percent of respondents reported sleeping in their contact lenses, a major risk factor that increases complications by 15 times.
“It’s easy for patients to forget that contact lenses are medical devices and as such, should be handled with an appropriate level of caution,” said Dr. Christine Sindt, OD, FAAO, chair of the AOA’s Contact Lens and Cornea Section and Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa. “Clean and safe handling of contacts is one of the most important measures wearers can take to protect their sight.”
According to the press release, “the AOA’s survey shows that although a majority of contact lens wearers (58 percent) clean and disinfect them with an appropriate solution, another 23 percent of respondents soak or clean lenses in water, and 12 percent store their contacts in something other than a typical storage case. Cleaning and rinsing lenses are necessary to remove mucus, secretions, films or deposits which may have accumulated during wearing, while disinfecting is required to destroy harmful germs. Water does not disinfect lenses; in fact it can actually contaminate contacts. Using something other than an appropriate case for storing lenses can allow bacteria to grow on or near contacts.”
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