NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Are you one of the 41 million Americans who wear contact lenses?
If so, then it’s almost certain that you have at least one bad lens-care habit that could lead to serious eye infections.
When you first got contact lenses, your eye doctor certainly gave you instructions on how to care for them. And then over time, you probably ignored some or most of those directions.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 99 percent of contact lens wearers surveyed reported at least one behavior that puts them at risk for a contact lens-related eye infection.
Probably the most common is what we do with our lens solutions.
“People like to top off their solutions. You sort of take out your contact lens in the morning, and there’s a little bit residual in the case. You leave it there. At the end of the day, you top it off with a little fresh solution,” said Dr. Christopher Starr of Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Throw out the residual solution, rinse the case, and let it air dry.
The next big mistake is sleeping in your lenses. Some lenses are designed for sleeping, but most are not. Take them out before going to bed.
Then there are people who wear lenses for too long.
“Two-week lenses should be worn for two weeks. Don’t try to get a month out of them,” Starr said. “Daily lenses, throw them out at the end of the day. Don’t try to get several days out of them.”
Another mistake many people make is swimming with your lenses in. Contacts can trap germs in water against your corneas — in lakes, streams, the ocean and even in chlorinated pools. Plus the chemicals can also be very irritating. Even showering in your lenses can be risky.
And finally, something that should go without saying: Always wash your hands before handling your lenses. The eye infections from improper lens handling can be devastating.
Contact lenses have become so easy to use that we forget they can lead to corneal ulcers, transplants and even blindness.
Lens complications lead to approximately 1 million clinic and emergency room visits annually.