Special Segment: Contact confessions

August 3, 2012 5:22:57 AM PDT
Millions of Americans wear contact lenses daily but some bad habits could cause incurable infections or even blindness.

Optometrist Sheri Mcgurk is shocked by the results of a study from the University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center which claims of the 30 million contact lens wearers in the US, 99 percent are doing something wrong.

Erika Avery confesses to one of the top offenses.

"I've fallen asleep in them when I shouldn't have," she said.

Eye experts say the danger in doing that is you're cutting off oxygen to your eyes.

Infections and bacterial ulcers can quickly develop.

Also, the most commonly worn contact lens are soft and they can absorb toxins and bacteria when not used properly.

Dr. Michael Saidel is a cornea expert at University of Chicago Medicine.

"Misuse of contact lens as causing corneal ulcers is probably No. 3 on our list," he said. "Probably No. 3, so it's extremely common."

Another study by Bausch and Lomb finds 20 percent of contact wearers have stored their lenses in everything from beer to coke to baby oil.

Even tap water can be dangerous because it can contain chemicals and bacteria.

"For example, you should not swim in a contact lens or go into a hot tub and you probably shouldn't shower in a contact lens."

Signs of irritation or infection can include discomfort, excess tearing or discharge, sensitivity to light, itching or burning, redness, blurred vision and swelling or pain.

To keep eyes safe, use only proper contact solution to store and clean your lenses and always empty the case and fill with new solution after each use.

Another no-no is using contacts longer than recommended.

Dr. Saidle stresses that millions of people wear contacts each day with no problems.

When patients get a bit cavalier about these medical devices, that's when the trouble can begin.

"We see people every week due to problems from contact lenses. Not everybody heeds a transplant but a lot of people need therapy and the most common therapy is getting out of contacts."

Many doctors say when it comes to contacts the rule is: When in doubt, take them out and consult an eye care specialist with concerns.

Finally, make sure to have a pair of back-up glasses when your contacts just don't feel right.

More information: American Academy of Ophthalmology


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