The Risk of Poor Contact Lens Care

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August 23, 2018
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August 30, 2018
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The Risk of Poor Contact Lens Care

Since most people with KC wear contact lenses on a daily basis, it’s important to know the risks that can come with improper care and less than stellar healthy habits.

A good thing to remember is that some infections can be treated easily with your eye doctor and its best to contact them the moment you experience any symptoms related to infection such as blurriness or itchiness.

The downside to improper care that includes a lack of attention to healthy habits is that there are potentially serious infections that can have lasting damage.

Keratitis – Inflammation of the cornea

Contact lens wear is linked to keratitis because it can come from lack of care or not using supplies as instructed. The main contribution to the cause of keratitis are germs and they can invade your eyes when lenses are worn way past their replacement date or simply for not cleaning them properly.

Microbial Keratitis

Caused by germs — such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Microbial keratitis is a serious type of eye infection in contact lens wearers, which can lead to blindness or the need for corneal transplant in the most severe cases.

Symptoms

  • Irritated, red eyes
  • Worsening pain in or around the eyes—even after contact lens removal
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sudden blurry vision
  • Unusually watery eyes or discharge
Bacterial Keratitis

Caused by bacteria. It can affect contact lens wearers, and also sometimes people who do not wear contact lenses. Types of bacteria that commonly cause bacterial keratitis include:

Symptoms

  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing
  • Eye discharge
Fungal Keratitis

Caused by a fungus.

Symptoms

  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing
  • Eye discharge
Parasitic/Amoebic Keratitis

Acanthamoeba keratitis, or AK, is a rare but serious infection of the eye that can cause permanent vision loss or blindness This infection is caused by a tiny amoeba (single-celled living organism) called Acanthamoeba. Acanthamoeba causes Acanthamoeba keratitis when it infects the cornea, the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye.

Symptoms:

  • Sensation of something in the eye
  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing

If you experience any of these symptoms, remove your contact lenses (if you wear them) and call your eye doctor right away. AK is a rare condition, but if left untreated it can result in vision loss or blindness.

Viral Keratitis

HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) keratitis is an infection of the cornea—the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye—that is caused by HSV. The infection usually heals without damaging the eye, but more severe infections can lead to scarring of the cornea or blindness. HSV keratitis is a major cause of blindness worldwide. HSV-1, which is the type of HSV that also causes cold sores on the mouth, is the most common cause of corneal infections.

Symptoms:

  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery discharge

If you experience any of these symptoms, remove your contact lenses (if you wear them) and call your eye doctor right away. If left untreated, HSV keratitis can result in vision loss or blindness.

Currently there are no proven methods for preventing HSV keratitis, but some steps available from the Mayo Clinic may help to control HSV keratitis recurrences:

  • Avoid touching your eyes or the area around your eyes unless you have washed your hands properly—especially if you have a cold sore or herpes blister.
  • Only use eye drops that have been prescribed or recommended by an eye doctor or health care provider.

Follow these tips to keep your eyes healthy while wearing contact lenses. Your daily habits, your contact lenses and supplies, and your eye doctor are all important.

Infection Prevention

The best thing you can do to avoid contracting any of these infections is proper lens care. Follow your lens regimen and instructions carefully and always wash your hands.

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