Some people prefer using contact lens over glasses but findings of a new study have revealed the risks of this option.
Researchers have found that wearing contact lenses can change the community of bacteria that lives in the eye and this could be a factor why people wearing contact lenses are more at risk of eye infections.
For the study presented at the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting, researchers compared daily contact lens wearers and those who do not use contact lenses and found that the types of bacteria present in the eyes of those who wear contact lenses have closer resemblance to those found on the skin of the eyelids compared with the eyes of those who do not use contacts.
They also found that wearers of contact lens had 5,245 distinct bacterial strains and subtypes and had thrice the normal ratio of methylobacterium, which is commonly found in sewage, soil and leaf surfaces; lactobacillus, considered to be a friendly bacteria that thrive in the digestive and urinary tract; pseudomonas, which can cause ear infections and other more serious health problems; and acinetobacter, which can be found in water and soil and is attributed for many infections.
The use of contact lenses has been associated with eye diseases and infections. It is believed to increase risks for keratitis, a condition which occurs when the cornea of the eye becomes inflamed.
Study researcher and eye surgeon Lisa Park said that when people use their fingers to place the contact lenses into their eyes, they may also be possibly putting other bacteria on the eye's surface. Since these bacteria do not normally live there, they increase certain types of infection. She said that identifying bacteria in the eyes could result in improved treatments once infections occur.
Study researcher Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, from NYU Langone Medical Center, also said that the findings of their research show that placing foreign object, contact lens, for instance, into one's eye is not a neutral act.
"What we hope our future experiments will show is whether these changes in the eye microbiome of lens wearers are due to fingers touching the eye, or from the lens's direct pressure affecting and altering the immune system in the eye and what bacteria are suppressed or are allowed to thrive," Dominguez-Bello said.
The study involved only 20 participants and is considered too small to warrant changes in eye care.
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