Think LASIK is scary? If you rely on contact lenses to see, you may be at a greater risk than you realize.
Contact lenses are a convenient way to correct vision in the short term. However, they also come with risks, some of which could cause blindness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 45 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses, and one third of them report at least one health care visit for a red or painful eye while wearing lenses.
In this article, we discuss some of the problems that can occur when you wear contact lenses, and how to prevent them.
Still scared of LASIK? Wait until you read about the frightening potential complications you contact lenses can cause:
Common problems with contact lenses
Some common problems contact lens wearers may experience include:
- Eye irritation or pain: This can be caused by dry eyes, allergies, dust, poorly fitting lenses or sudden contact lens intolerance (CLI). To reduce your risks, use lubricating eye drops, clean your lenses regularly and follow contact lens use instructions from your eye care professional.
- Swelling around the eye: Swelling can be a sign of inflammation or infection. Remove your lenses immediately and see an eye doctor if you have swelling, redness, discharge or blurred vision.
- Conjunctivitis (“pink eye”): This is an infection of the thin membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner eyelid. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Symptoms include itching, burning, tearing and discharge. Stop wearing your contacts and visit an eye doctor if you have conjunctivitis. You may need antibiotics or antiviral eye drops to treat it.
Less common but still serious contact lens complications
Although rare, these contact lens complications can be serious:
- Corneal ulcers: These are open sores in the outer layer of the cornea, the clear front part of the eye. Ulcers on the cornea are usually caused by infections from bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. They can cause severe pain, sensitivity to light, blurred vision and scarring—and can even lead to blindness if not treated promptly. To prevent corneal ulcers, you should never sleep in your contacts unless they are designed for extended wear, never use tap water or saliva to clean your lenses and never wear expired or damaged lenses.
- Infectious keratitis: This is inflammation of the cornea due to an infection. It can cause similar symptoms as corneal ulcers and can also lead to blindness if not treated promptly. To prevent infectious keratitis, follow the same precautions as for corneal ulcers.
How to wear contact lenses safely
While prolonged contact lens use is not recommended, here are some tips to reduce your own risks of complications:
- Wash your hands before handling your lenses.
- Use only sterile contact lens solution to clean and store your lenses. Do not “top off” old solution with new solution.
- Replace your lens case every three months or as directed by your eye care professional.
- Follow the recommended schedule for replacing your lenses. Do not wear them longer than advised.
- Remove your lenses before swimming, showering or sleeping (unless they are approved for overnight wear).
- See your eye doctor regularly for check-ups and follow their instructions.
- Consider LASIK vision correction. When you eliminate the need for contact lenses, you eliminate the possible complications of contact lens wear.
By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of harmful contact lens damage. To eliminate the potential harm from lenses, talk to Kugler Vision about whether LASIK is an option for you.
As modern vision correction specialists, we at Kugler Vision are committed to serving our patients’ needs on the journey to a life free from visual barriers. Take the first step with a thorough eye analysis and find out if you qualify for Modern LASIK or one of our 6 other advanced vision correction treatments. Book online at LASIKOmaha.com.
Dr. Drew Dickson is a board-certified ophthalmologist who specializes in LASIK and other refractive surgery procedures. He completed his undergraduate studies at Liberty University before earning his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine. He then completed his ophthalmology residency at the Medical University of South Carolina Storm Eye Institute.
In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Dickson is involved in research and has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Dickson is known for his compassionate bedside manner and commitment to providing his patients with personalized care. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and traveling.