Do you wear contact lenses and have you ever suffered from infections?
Recent research has concluded that wearing contact lenses may interfere with the delicate balance of micro-organisms living naturally on the eye's surface.
This could explain infections among some users.
How this study was carried out
Although the study was small – just a sample of 9 contact users compared with 11 non wearers, the researchers carried out a detailed genetic analysis to identify the micro-organisms living on the eye and the nearby skin of each participant. They analyzed swabs to determine the number and type of bacterial species that lived on the surface of the participants' eyes - the eye’s microbiome. The researchers also analyzed the bacteria on the skin just below the eye.
Research leader, Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello (Langone Medical Center at New York University)
said “These findings should help scientists to understand why contact lens wearers are more prone to eye infections than non-lens wearers
But according to Lisa Park (a study co-author and clinical associate professor in the NYU School of Medicine’s Department of Opthamology):
“It’s not like all contact-lens wearers get more infections, it’s simply that a different type of bacteria has colonized and is living on the surface of their eyes
There are other drawbacks to contact lenses
- Dirty or dusty lenses can cause temporary discomfort or redness.
- In very rare cases (approximately 4 in 10,000) wearers can develop more serious infections of the cornea. The cornea is the transparent membrane covering the front of the eyeball. Fortunately, vision loss to such corneal infections is even more rare.
- Infections often come when people don’t take proper care of their lenses—sleeping in them overnight or not cleaning them well (or frequently enough). According to one 2010 study, while 86% of contact-wearers thought they did a good job caring for their lenses, only 32% per cent showed “good compliance”, 44% were average and 24% were “non compliant.”
We tell you how to take care of and protect your eyes from daily hazards in a general way in our earlier post here
One-bottle care systems and disposable contact lenses mean that proper lens care involves much less time, expense and trouble than it did years ago. However, some products are not compatible with each other or with certain contact lenses, harming your lenses or even your eyes. Always follow guidelines for safe handling of soft contact lenses.
Soft contact lens care – clean, rinse and disinfect
1. Wash your hands so that you don't transfer dirt and germs to your eye. Avoid moisturizing soaps, as they are not good for contact lenses. Dry your hands with a lint-free towel.
2. Remove one lens and clean it with the recommended solution. Cleaning removes eye-produced buildup, cosmetics and other debris that impairs lens comfort. Rub the lens in the palm of your hand with a few drops of solution, even if you are using a "no-rub" product.
3. Rinse the lens again to remove the loosened debris, making sure to take as long as the package directs - rinsing is an important step.
4. Place the lens in your clean lens case or lens holder and fill with fresh solution but never "top off" your old solution. Disinfecting kills micro-organisms on the lens while the necessary time for this varies from product to product.
5. Repeat steps 2 to 4 for the second lens.
And there is more...
Depending on what kind of contact lenses you wear and how much protein your eyes deposit on your contacts, your eye specialist may recommend you use a product for protein removal - especially for the type of lenses that are replaced only once or twice a year. Products for removing protein include enzymatic cleaner and daily protein removal liquids.
It is often recommended that you use contact lens eye drops to lubricate your eyes and re-wet your lenses if necessary. However, suffering from the problem of dry eyes can be rectified in different ways as set out in our earlier post.
Some lens wearers develop an eye allergy to the chemicals present in contact lens solutions. Immediately switch to products marked "preservative-free
”. If it were me, I would go for the latter right from the start.
Many of those with poor vision decide against contact lenses in the first place because of the chemicals used in those contact lens products.
The use of hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide solution
is another way to clean, disinfect, rinse and store your contact lenses.
Some lens holders for hydrogen peroxide systems have a built-in neutralizer (to convert the hydrogen peroxide to water, so it doesn't sting your eyes), but with others you need to add a neutralizing tablet.
After the disinfection and neutralizing step is completed, you can remove the lenses from the case and put them on. But never rinse your contacts with hydrogen peroxide solution and apply them directly to your eyes without completing the entire disinfecting and neutralizing step.
Doing so can cause a painful chemical injury to the eye.
Our eyes are so precious. We share 10 ways to keep them young and healthy here
Unfortunately, using contact lenses will always be a less than natural way of improving your vision.