CDC: 41 million contact lens wearers in US at risk of eye infections

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In a national survey carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US it as been found that almost all of the 41 million estimated contact lens wearers in the US may be engaging in at least one behaviour known to increase their risk of eye infections.

CDC found that majority of respondents (82.3 per cent) kept contact lens cases for longer than recommended. Further it found that over half of the respondents (55.1 per cent) topped off their solution in the case by adding new solution to the existing solution instead of emptying the case out fully before adding new solution. Surprising finding was that over half of the respondents (50.2 per cent) wore their lenses while sleeping.

According to previous studies, each of these behaviors raise the risk of an eye infection by fivefolds.

CDC conducted a separate survey to find out the estimated number of contact lens wearers and it turns out that 41 million adults in the US wear contact lenses and when this survey is combined with the one about risky behaviour, it shows a picture more grim than anticipated.

“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,” says CDC Medical Epidemiologist Jennifer Cope, M.D., M.P.H. “We are finding that many wearers are unclear about how to properly wear and care for contact lenses.”

Some of the recommendations for contact lens wearers put forward by CDC

  • Wash hands with soap and water and dry them well before touching contact lenses;
  • Take contacts out before sleeping, showering or swimming;
  • Rub and rinse contacts in disinfecting solution each time they are removed;
  • Rub and rinse the case with contact lens solution, dry with a clean tissue and store it upside down with the caps off after each use;
  • Replace contact lens cases at least once every three months;
  • Avoid “topping off” solution in lens case (adding fresh solution to old solution); and
  • Carry a backup pair of glasses in case contact lenses have to be taken out.