A man from Ohio has become blind in one eye after working all day and sleeping all night without removing his contact lenses.

In July, Chad Groeschen, who manages a design-based renovation firm, was then working outdoors on a project. He suddenly felt an itchy sensation in his left eye and immediately thought it was an allergic reaction of some sort. The next day, the same eye started feeling extremely painful and "goopy" that he also thought about the possibility of a sinusitis. The day after that, his vision was already impaired. Little did he know that it was because of his contact lenses.

The 39-year-old sculptor went in for a consultation at the Cincinnati Eye Institute following the recommendation of a friend. The doctors diagnosed him with a Pseudomonas bacterial infection.

According to Groeschen, the bacteria can incubate beneath the contact lenses. He was prescribed antibiotics, which were able to successfully treat the infection. However, the exposure of his eye to the pathogen has caused an ulcer to develop in the cornea, which has resulted in the formation of a scar tissue and consequent blindness.

"It's like looking through an opaque piece of glass," described Groeschen. The bacterial infection may have been dissolved but it leaves a scar that can affect vision, he added. Eye specialists in charge of Groeschen have recommended a possible corneal transplant surgery to regain his vision. The procedure will require a year for full recovery.

The contact lenses that Groeschen had been using were the extended-wear types. He would take them out only once every week for cleaning purposes. He said these contacts were labeled "Night and Day" lenses, so this had given him the impression that the lenses could stay in his eyes for 30 consecutive days or so, he told USA Today.

The man thought that the less often he touched his eyes the better. While these types of contact lenses have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for overnight wear, the American Academy of Ophthalmology believes that such kinds of contact lenses may elevate the risk of individuals to develop infections.

According to latest report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to 1 million health care consultations are due to keratitis or inflammation of the cornea or complications due to the use of contact lenses.

The estimated cost of these medical problems is about $175 million. About 99 percent of people who wear contact lenses have reported at least one behavior that could put them at risk of eye infections. A frequently reported risk behavior is sleeping with contact lenses on. Other risk behaviors are showering or swimming with contact lenses on, storing them in water-exposed environments and rinsing them in tap water.

"Individuals are likely doing at least one, if not more, of these behaviors," said Dr. Jennifer R. Cope, lead author of the CDC report and medical epidemiologist at the said agency. Practicing two or more of these behaviors may potentially heighten the risk of a person to develop eye infection.

Photo: Lee Haywood | Flickr

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