Contact lenses have come a long way over the years and offer many options to consumers. They are an excellent solution for people who have vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Just like prescription medication, contact lenses must be used properly to avoid health risks. If you do not follow the guidelines provided by your doctor and contact lens manufacturer, you risk eye infections, corneal damage and even blindness.
The most common infection related to contact lens use is keratitis, which is an infection of the cornea. Keratitis is the most serious complication that can arise from contact lens wear because it can result in corneal scarring and, in severe cases, can result in the need for a corneal transplant. Some of the causes of keratitis include sleeping in contact lenses, the use of extended-wear lenses, environmental factors; poor tear film under lenses, poor hygiene and improper lens care.
Overuse of contact lenses can also lead to swelling of the cornea (corneal edema). Symptoms of corneal edema include blurred vision and seeing rainbows around lights. Corneal edema often occurs when poor fitting contact lenses are used.
A corneal ulcer is one of the most severe types of damage caused by contact lens overuse. A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea and often begins as an eye infection or corneal scratch. Contact lens wearers are ten times more likely to develop a corneal ulcer when using extended wear lenses. Symptoms of a corneal ulcer include redness, pain, blurry vision, swollen lids and discharge. If left untreated, a corneal ulcer can lead to corneal scarring or a corneal perforation.
If you wear contact lenses or are considering wearing them, take care of your eyes by following the usage directions. If you are looking for an alternative to contact lenses, consider LASIK. LASIK is considered by many to be a safer alternative to contact lenses. See for yourself by reading our article: Is LASIK Safer than Contact Lenses? To learn more about how to care for your contact lenses or if you are interested in scheduling a LASIK consultation, call the Raleigh Eye Center at (919) 876.2427.