Mar 5th 2024

Contact Lenses and Eye Infections: A Comprehensive Guide

Contact Lenses and Eye Infections: A Comprehensive Guide

For millions of people worldwide, contact lenses are a game-changer. They offer the freedom from glasses, provide a wider field of vision, and are especially handy for sport enthusiasts. However, with this convenience comes the responsibility of proper lens care. Improper handling and care can lead to eye infections, some of which can be severe.

This guide takes a deeper look into potential eye infections related to contact lens use and offers tips on how to prevent them.

Common Eye Infections Related to Contact Lens Use

For many, contacts are a daily essential, providing clear vision without the restrictions of wearing glasses. However, with the myriad of benefits they offer, there's also a responsibility to ensure proper care and hygiene. Neglect in this area can pave the way for a range of eye infections. Let's delve into some of the most common infections that contact lens wearers might encounter and understand their origins:

Bacterial Keratitis

A concerning eye condition, Bacterial Keratitis is an infection targeting the cornea, the eye's clear frontal layer. Originating from bacterial invasion, its consequences can be dire, potentially resulting in vision loss if not addressed immediately. For those who wear contacts, the risks of developing this condition may increase. The following factors can significantly increase the chances of developing this infection:

  • Wearing lenses during sleep
  • Extended use of contacts beyond the recommended duration of wear
  • Inconsistent or improper cleaning
This is why meticulous lens care is crucial for maintaining optimal eye health and preventing such infections.

Fungal Keratitis

A counterpart to bacterial infections, Fungal Keratitis is an eye condition instigated by fungi. While it's more rare than bacterial infections, its treatment can be notably more intricate. One of the primary culprits behind this infection is the use of expired or contaminated contact lens solutions, emphasizing the importance of proper lens care and storage hygiene.

Acanthamoeba Keratitis

A particularly intense eye infection, Acanthamoeba Keratitis is caused by a water-borne microorganism. Though its occurrence is infrequent, its impact can be strong and detrimental. Contact users heighten their risk when they clean their lenses with tap water or indulge in activities like swimming or showering without removing their lenses, making it essential to exercise caution around water.

Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC)

GPC, while not an infection, is a notable inflammation affecting the inner eyelid. Often, it emerges as the eye's response to persistent irritation from foreign objects, such as contacts. Extended wear or improper lens hygiene can exacerbate this condition, emphasizing the need for regular lens cleaning and mindful wear durations.

Preventing Eye Infections: Best Practices for Contact Lens Wearers

The benefits of contacts are clear, offering both aesthetic appeal and functional benefits. Yet, the privilege of clear, glasses-free vision comes with its set of responsibilities. The eyes are delicate and even minor oversights in lens care can lead to complications.

To ensure that your eyes remain as healthy as your vision is clear it is crucial to adopt certain best practices. Let's explore the essential steps every contact lens wearer should take to prevent eye infections.

Hand Hygiene

The first line of defense against eye infections for contact lens wearers starts with consistent hand hygiene. Before touching your lenses, ensure your hands are meticulously cleaned with soap and water. Using a lint-free towel to dry your hands prevents the transfer of minute debris or lint onto the lens, safeguarding against potential irritations or complications.

Clean and Disinfect

Maintaining the cleanliness of your contacts is paramount for eye health. Always adhere to the cleaning and disinfecting guidelines provided by your optometrist. It's essential to use the prescribed lens solution consistently, without switching brands, as this ensures optimal lens hygiene and reduces the risk of complications.

Avoid Tap Water

Tap water, although safe for drinking, is not suitable for cleaning contacts or their cases. It often contains microorganisms like Acanthamoeba, and when introduced to the eye, can cause serious infections. To ensure the safety and longevity of your lenses, always use the recommended lens solution and steer clear of tap water for lens-related hygiene.

Regularly Replace Your Lens Case

A lens case plays a pivotal role in eye health. As it ages, it can harbor harmful bacteria, increasing the risk of eye infections. To maintain optimal hygiene, it's recommended to replace your case every three months. However, if you notice any cracks or visible dirt, it's prudent to replace it even sooner to ensure safety.

Follow the Recommended Schedule

Adhering to the prescribed schedule for your contact lenses is crucial for eye health. If you're using monthly lenses, ensure they're replaced every 30 days. Those opting for daily disposables, it's imperative to discard them after a single use. Deviating from these guidelines can increase the risk of eye complications and infections.

Sleep Smart

It’s important to prioritize our eye health at all times, even in our sleeping habits. While some lenses are crafted for overnight use, most are nott. Wearing standard lenses to bed can obstruct oxygen flow to the eyes, elevating the risk of bacterial keratitis– a serious eye infection. Prioritize your eye health by removing your lenses each night, unless they're explicitly designed for extended wear.

Be Cautious with Makeup

Makeup and contacts require a careful balance. To prevent potential irritants, always insert your lenses before applying makeup and ensure they're removed before makeup removal. Choosing non-allergenic makeup reduces the risk of reactions.

Additionally, refrain from applying eyeliner directly to the waterline, as this can introduce contaminants and compromise lens cleanliness.

Stay Updated

Consistent eye exams are more than just updating prescriptions, they serve as a proactive approach to eye health. By scheduling regular visits to your optometrist, not only are you ensuring that your vision correction is accurate but also enable early detection of potential issues, from the onset of infections to other eye-related concerns, ensuring timely intervention and care.

Listen to Your Eyes

Your eyes often signal when something's amiss. Symptoms like the following shouldn't be ignored:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Pain
  • Sudden vision changes
In such instances, promptly remove your contacts. It's crucial to consult an eye care professional for guidance, as these signs might indicate underlying issues that require immediate attention or adjustments in your lens care routine.

Educate Yourself

In our digital age buying contacts has never been easier, but it's essential to tread with caution. While online stores or discount shops may offer tempting deals, they can also pose risks of substandard or counterfeit products. Prioritize your eye health by opting for reputable, trusted sources when purchasing lenses to ensure the utmost quality and safety.

The Bottom Line

Contact lenses are a fantastic tool for vision correction, offering flexibility and freedom that glasses often can't. However, the responsibility is on the wearer to ensure they're used safely. By understanding the potential risks and adhering to best practices, you can enjoy the benefits of contacts while keeping your eyes healthy and infection-free.

Your vision is something incredibly important, and safeguarding your eyes should always be a priority. If ever uncertain about your eye health or contact lens practices, it's imperative to seek guidance from an eye care professional.

When it comes to your eyes, it's always best to lead with caution and choose the best possible option for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can contact lenses increase the risk of eye infections?

Yes, improper use or hygiene of contact lenses can increase the risk of eye infections. It's essential to follow strict hygiene practices and your eye care professional's recommendations.

What are some common symptoms of an eye infection related to contact lens wear?

Symptoms may include redness, pain, itching, excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and a discharge from the eye.

How can I prevent eye infections while wearing contact lenses?

Maintain excellent hygiene: Wash your hands before handling lenses, use a new (fresh) disinfecting solution, and avoid sleeping or swimming with lenses. Follow your eye care professional's guidance for lens care.

Are there specific contact lens solutions that are better at preventing infections?

Several contact lens solutions are designed to disinfect and reduce the risk of infections. Consult with your eye care provider to find the one best suited to your needs.

Can I continue wearing contact lenses if I have an eye infection, or should I stop using them immediately?

It's crucial to discontinue contact lens use if you suspect an eye infection. Follow your eye care professional's advice on when it's safe to resume wearing them.

Are some contact lens materials less prone to causing infections than others?

Generally, soft contact lenses are more popular due to their comfort, but they may require more meticulous care. Discuss your material options and care routine with your eye care provider to ensure the correct lens for your lfiestyle

What should I do if I develop an eye infection while wearing contact lenses?

Remove your lenses immediately and consult your eye care professional. They will diagnose the infection and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include prescription eye drops or medication.

Remember, while contact lenses offer excellent vision correction, proper care and attention to hygiene are crucial to ensure your eye health and reduce the risk of infections. Always follow your eye care provider's guidance for the best practices in contact lens use.

See Clearly
Alaesha Gaedke
Alaesha Gaedke

Alaesha Gaedke holds a M.B.A. from Franklin University Switzerland, and a B.A. in Public Relations from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. With her passion for the MedTech industry, her work explores the complexities of medical device technology; bridging the gap between the science behind Medical Devices and the audience for which they're designed for. Her work has been published in regulatory marketing material across Europe and the U.S.

Customer Reviews