Improper use of contact lenses causes severe eye infections, CDC says

CDC: Improper Contact Lens Use Can Cause Lasting Eye Damage

If you don't take care of your contact lenses, be prepared to say hello to severe eye infections.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday showed that approximately 20 percent of contact lens-related eye infections resulted in eye damage. The report examined 1,075 contact lens-related infections over the course of a decade, starting in 2005, all reported to the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Jennifer Cope, medical epidemiologist in the CDC's Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, said in a statement that these infections are a cautionary tale for the 41 million U.S. contact-lens wearers.

To avoid becoming a statistic, take these CDC-recommended steps to prevent contact-related eye infections: Don't sleep with contact lenses in before consulting your doctor; avoid adding new contact lens solution to an old solution sitting in the case; and replace your contact lenses per your doctor's recommendation.

"I advise patients not to sleep in [contact lenses], regardless of whether or not a lens is approved for extended or continuous wear," Dr. Thomas Steinemann, clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and practicing ophthalmologist at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, tells NPR.

Even minor eye infections can cause pain and upset daily routines, so it's important that contact-lens wearers take the proper precautions, experts say.

If you experience abnormal issues with your contact lenses, you can report them to the FDA, as contacts are considered medical devices.

Learn about how to best care for your contact lenses:

Top tips for people who wear contact lenses
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Top tips for people who wear contact lenses

1. Always be sure to wash your hands before touching your contacts. 

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2. Always clean, rinse and disinfect your lenses when you take them out. 

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3. Always keep your solution bottles closed when they are not in use.

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4. Be sure to always clean your lens case daily and let it air dry. Try to replace your lens case every three months.

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5. Always remove your contacts before you go swimming.

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6. Never re-use contact solution. Be sure to never mix new solution with old in your case. 

(Photo credit: Getty)


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