KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Contact lenses have come a long way since they were invented in 1888. In time, they evolved from glass to plastic to, nowadays, silicone hydrogel. Despite a better product, contact lens wearers can still harm their eyes if they’re not careful.
More than one in 10 people in the U.S. wears contact lenses to correct their vision yet many are not practicing proper contact lens hygiene. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller headed to an eye doctor’s office in Kingston to learn about some practices that could harm your eyes.
With his contact lenses still in, 25-year-old Tommie O’Connell got his vision checked. He wears bi-weekly contact lenses.
“They’re convenient as far as I don’t have to throw them out every night and like for cost-wise they’re also a lot more convenient because it costs less,” said Mr. O’Connell.
A couple of times he’s worn them beyond the two-week limit.
“So like the lenses get a little bit cloudy and you get a little bit irritation in the eye,” said Mr. O’Connell.
While he’s never had a serious problem, he’s lucky. An astounding 40 to 90 percent of contact lens wearers are putting their eye health at risk because of poor practices. One such example is sleeping in contacts which increases the risk of eye infection by eight times. Optometrist Nayab Davis, OD of Family Vision Care of Kingston emphasizes four important rules for her patients.
“They are taking their contact lenses out every single day. There’s no sleeping in contacts and that they’re not swimming in contacts, that they are cleaning their contacts with the proper solution every night,” Dr. Davis said.
Good contact lens hygiene doesn’t stop there. Dr. Davis said, “You want to start with a fresh, clean case. Make sure that it’s dry.” It’s also important before handling your contact lenses to thoroughly wash and dry your hands. She added, “You want to make sure that you are not introducing bacteria to your eyes.”
As for the actual contacts, only wear ones prescribed by a doctor. It will help you get the benefits you’re seeking and avoid the complications that could put your eyes in jeopardy. Dr. Davis said, “Even if you don’t have an issue now, again it’s that susceptibility factor.”
Dr. Davis recommends contact wearers get routine eye exams. And, don’t stock-up on lenses before your prescription expires. You want to make sure you’re using the right contact lenses and taking care of them the right way.