Contact lenses are a good option for many as an alternative to eyeglasses. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 46 million Americans wear contact lenses.
However, the use of contact lenses also brings a higher risk of infections. Causes may include sleeping in lenses when not approved by an eye doctor, not cleaning the lenses or lens case properly, sharing lenses, or wearing contact lenses during water activities.
A new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC shows that more than 80 percent of contact lens wearers reported at least one behavior that put them at risk for a contact lens-related eye infection. The report broke down the rates by age groups, where 85 percent of adolescents (ages 12-17), 81 percent of young adults (ages 18-24), and 88 percent of older adults (ages 25 and older) practiced unsafe lens use.
Prevent Blindness Texas has declared October as Contact Lens Safety Awareness Month in an effort to educate the public on the best ways to obtain, care for and use contact lenses. The non-profit group has a dedicated webpage with free information at: http://www.preventblindness.org/wearing-contact-lenses.
As Halloween approaches, many may be interested in wearing cosmetic contact lenses to enhance their costumes. However, all contact lenses, including prescription or cosmetic, are classified as medical devices, and it is illegal for anyone to sell contact lenses without a prescription.
After obtaining a valid prescription, Prevent Blindness Texas recommends that contact lens wearers follow an eye care professional’s instructions about care and cleaning of the lenses, and to see an eye care professional for regular follow-up exams.
If the following problems are experienced, a patient should contact an eye doctor immediately:
- Unexplained eye discomfort or pain
- Redness of the eye and/or discharge
- Watering eyes
- Vision change
“We encourage anyone who is interested in wearing lenses to visit an eye care professional first,” said Heather Patrick, President and CEO of Prevent Blindness Texas. “And, we want to remind all contact lens wearers to remember to take the necessary steps every day to care for them safely to keep their eyes healthy for years to come.”