The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new contact lenses safety recommendations, including not swimming or sleeping while wearing them.
A study analyzed 1,075 reports of corneal infections that were associated with lenses. Out of them, 20% resulted in corneal scars, decreased vision, or the need for corneal transplant.
Eye problems related to inflammation of the cornea and keratitis are linked to 1 million emergency rooms and clinic visits every year. Meanwhile, the use of lenses brings a major risk of corneal infection.
„Although contact lenses are a safe and effective form of vision correction if worn and cared for as directed, they pose an infection risk to wearers if not worn and cared for properly,” said the report.
People who wear or sleep in their contact lenses have a higher danger of getting microbial keratitis.
On the other hand, the daily disposable lenses are associated with a lower risk of infections. The patients that wore them had fewer reports of infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends avoiding sleeping in contact lenses. Another habit which needs to be carefully monitored is swimming. The CDC warns the public that contact lenses should not be exposed to distilled water, tap water or recreational water.
Important information to be taken into consideration is that contact lenses alter eye bacteria, and the eye microbiome becomes more like the one of the skin.
Another study showed that they increase the proportion of skin bacteria such as Acinetobacter, Methylobacterium, Pseudomonas, and Lactobacillus. On the other hand, their use reduces the amount of Streptococcus, Haemophilus, Staphylococcus, and Corynebacterium, which are specific to the eye.
The researchers believe that the event occurs because the bacteria move from the fingers to the lens, and from the lens to the eye. The advice is to be very careful with hygiene and to pay attention to contact lenses safety recommendations when handling them.
In a CDC survey, more than 99% of the people who used lenses had at least one risk behavior related to their use, such as wearing them for longer than recommended or adding the new solution over the existing one.
Almost 41 million Americans are wearing contact lenses. The CDC recommends to wash hands before touching the eyes or handling contact lenses, rinse the lens with a disinfecting solution after they are removed, and to replace them in maximum three months.
Another advice is to carry backup glasses for the moments when the lenses need to be taken down.
Other risks related to wearing lenses are dry eyes, allergic reactions, corneal issues, eye or eyelid inflammations.
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