For people who suffer from poor eyesight, contact lenses provide a more convenient alternative to having to wear eyeglasses the entire day. While these medical devices have been proven safe, poor practices in the part of some contact lens wearers increase their own risk of contracting eye infections.

A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that a large majority of contact lens wearers in the United States engage in at least one behavior that could increase their susceptibility to eye infection.

The report is based on the CDC's nationwide survey of around 1,000 individuals, age 18 years and above, who wear contact lenses. The agency discovered that around 93 percent of the participants wear soft contact lenses made of flexible plastic materials that facilitate the passing of oxygen to the cornea.

Around 99 percent of the participants admitted that they have disregarded the importance of good contact lens hygiene at least once, which could make them more susceptible to eye inflammation or infection.

A large number of contact lens wearers surveyed by the agency said that they have kept their lens cases for longer than what is recommended (82.3 percent), while others said that they have added a new solution to the existing one instead of fully emptying the case out before placing more solution (55.1 percent). Participants also admitted to sleeping while their contact lenses were still on (50.2 percent).

The CDC said that earlier studies have found that each of these poor practices has the potential to increase eye infection risks by five times or more.

How to Prevent Eye Infections

To protect individuals against possible eye infections related to wearing contact lenses, the CDC urges wearers to wash their hands with water and soap and to keep their hands dry touching contact lenses. They should also take out their lenses before showering, swimming or going to bed.

Contact lens wearers should also keep their lenses and cases clean by rubbing and rinsing them in disinfecting solution when they are not in use. Dry lens cases using a clean piece of tissue and store them upside down with their caps off after every use.

The CDC discourages wearers from adding more than one solution in lens cases. Contact lens cases should also be replaced at least once every three months.

"Good vision contributes to overall well-being and independence for people of all ages, so it's important not to cut corners on healthy contact lens wear and care," Dr. Jennifer Cope, medical epidemiologist at the CDC, said.

"We are finding that many wearers are unclear about how to properly wear and care for contact lenses."

Photo: Lee Haywood | Flickr 

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