Unsafe use of contact lenses — such as sleeping with them in place or using the same pair for too long — is triggering serious eye injuries for many Americans, a new report finds.
In fact, eye damage occurred in nearly 20 percent of contact lens-related eye infections reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over 10 years, researchers say.
“Improper wear and care of contact lenses can cause eye infections that sometimes lead to serious, long-term damage,” Michael Beach, who directs the Healthy Water Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an agency news release.
One eye specialist believes many Americans don’t take contact lens hygiene seriously enough.
“There is a serious health crisis with contact lens-related eye injuries,” said Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Unfortunately, many of the 41 million contact lens users in the United States do not think of a contact lens as a medical device they are placing on the surface of their eye.”
In the study, CDC researchers analyzed nearly 1,100 cases of eye infections related to use of contact lens that were reported to the FDA between 2005 and 2015.
According to the researchers, nearly 1 in 5 patients had either a scarred cornea, required a corneal transplant or had other types of eye damage because of the infection.
More than 10 percent of the patients had to go to a hospital ER or urgent care clinic for immediate treatment.