When worn and cared for properly, contact lenses are a very safe option for vision correction. However, failing to use and care for your contacts as directed can lead to some frightening risks.
Few things sound scarier than an ulcer on your eye. A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea caused by either a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection.
Wearing contact lenses, especially extended-wear lenses, increases your risk of developing a corneal ulcer. Extended use or overuse of contact lenses can scratch your cornea, block needed oxygen flow, and trap infectious bacteria onto your eye. All of these factors can make a contact lens user more susceptible to infections that can lead to corneal ulcers.
Infections Like Bacterial Keratitis
Every contact lens user should be made aware of bacterial keratitis. Bacterial keratitis is an infection of the cornea caused by a strain of bacteria. One of the most common causes of this infection is contact lens use. The real risk comes from overuse and improper hygiene.
Bacterial Keratitis is a serious complication that can develop quickly. If left untreated or not attended to early on, bacterial keratitis can lead to corneal ulcers, corneal edema, and blindness.
Oxygen Deprivation & Sleeping in Your Contacts
Your eyes depend on a steady flow of oxygen to remain healthy. A condition called hypoxia can occur when the cornea does not receive enough oxygen. Contact lenses sit directly on top of the cornea, decreasing the flow of oxygen. This is normally not an issue with regular contact lens use. However, chronic misuse, such as repeatedly wearing your contacts overnight, can induce the harmful effects of oxygen deprivation like blurred vision, corneal swelling, and microcysts.
Contact Lenses & Water
You should not swim in your contact lenses. No matter if it’s in a swimming pool, lake, the ocean, a hot tub or simply taking a show- water exposure can potentially lead to bacterial contamination of your eye. This can lead to eye infections like acanthamoaeba keratitis. Acanthamoeba keratitis can lead to serious complications like vision loss and could require a corneal transplant to see clearly again.
How to Reduce Your Risks
- Always practice good hygiene and wash your hands before handling your contacts
- Discard and replace your contacts as directed
- Never wear your contacts overnight
- Never use tap water or saliva to clean, lubricate, or store your lenses
- Never ignore signs of irritation or symptoms of infection. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, remove your contact immediately and call your doctor.
LASIK and SMILE: An Alternative
A common misconception is that wearing contacts is much safer than electing for a vision correction surgery like LASIK or SMILE. This is just not true: Correcting your vision with LASIK or SMILE laser eye surgery is extremely safe and can safeguard you from the complications and risks of wearing contact lenses.
If you’re ready to live your life free from contacts, call or schedule an appointment with us today to discuss your options for laser vision correction.