Can contact lenses be dangerous to eyes?

Contact lenses are an amazing innovation, allowing people to see more clearly without having to wear eyeglasses. About 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses, but are they safe? In fact, contact lenses can sometimes be dangerous, if a person isn’t careful about contact lens care. Are you maintaining your contacts correctly? Let’s look at some of the problems that can occur if you don’t.

  • The most common problems with contact lenses are typically mild. You might experience eye irritation or pain, swelling around the eye, blurred vision or light sensitivity, or conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. These conditions will typically go away on their own in a few days, but it’s always best to immediately stop wearing your contacts if you experience discomfort. Call your eye doctor and ask for advice, especially if your symptoms persist or get worse.
  • Left untreated, eye problems can become severe. A corneal ulcer, or injury to the clear portion in the front of the eye, can be mild and easy to treat with eye drops, as long as it’s treated early. If it’s not diagnosed and treated before it progresses, it can lead to serious problems, including vision loss. Similarly, infectious keratitis, a condition that occurs when an infection inflames the cornea, can be treated with topical medication when the infection is mild. However, if allowed to progress to a more severe infection, it can necessitate more drastic measures, like corneal replacement.
  • Sleeping in contact lenses can lead to trouble. People who sleep in contacts have reported problems like corneal infections and infectious keratitis. While problems like keratitis are rare, affecting fewer than 20 in 10,000 people who wear contact lenses, it’s still best to change your contacts as recommended and avoid wearing them to bed.
  • It’s important to keep your contact lenses clean and well-maintained. Since they make direct contact with your eye, contacts must be treated with care to avoid introducing bacteria into your eyes. Always wash your hands before touching your contacts, and never put contact lenses in your mouth or spit on them. Be careful not to let makeup or hand creams come into contact with your lenses, and keep your lens case clean and dry between uses, replacing it every few months. Have regular eye exams, and follow your doctor’s instructions for contact care precisely.
  • Keep your hands off of your eyes. This is good advice even if you don’t wear contact lenses! Eyes are very delicate; touching them can introduce bacteria and other foreign material that leads to infection. With contact lenses, there’s an even greater risk of injury or infection from rubbing your eyes. If you’re someone who can’t seem to stop rubbing your eyes, it may be better to go with eyeglasses or consider LASIK surgery.

Ultimately, contact lenses are considered safe because serious problems are relatively rare. The important thing is to get your contacts through a reputable eye doctor and then follow your doctor’s instructions for taking care of them. If you’re looking for an ophthalmologist or optometrist in Derry, Londonderry, Raymond or Windham, Spindel Eye Associates is here for you. Celebrating over thirty-five years in eye care, we proudly provide our patients with personalized eye care, using top of the line technology. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 603.421.6536 or contact us through our website.