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Contact Lens Related Microbial Keratitis Infection On The Rise in the U.S.

An eye infection called keratitis is on the rise in America. It is related to contact lens use.

Brewster Miller, Dumb Out, Nov 14, 2014

The CDC states, “Among the estimated 38 million contact lens wearers in the United States, poor storage case hygiene, infrequent storage case replacement, and overnight lens wear are established preventable risk factors for microbial keratitis, contact lens-related inflammation, and other eye complications.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes microbial keratitis as an infection of the cornea which might be caused by bacteria, amoebae, viruses, or fungi. The infection can cause pain and can result in inflammation which then can lead to vision loss and even blindness in the most severe cases. They also suggest that improper contact lens care is the top risk factors which can develop the infection.

contact lens
The CDC describes, “Keratitis associated with poor contact lens hygiene is preventable. Prevention efforts should include surveillance, improved estimates of the burden of disease, and vigorous health promotion activities focused on contact lens users and eye care professionals (ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians). Increased surveillance capacity is needed for microbial keratitis, in particular data from optometrist visits.”

Jennifer Cope, MD, MPH, medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports “Keratitis affects all age groups, from teens up to seniors,” Cope reports. She attests that women are more likely than men to be affected by the condition: 63 percent of office visits and 55 percent of ED visits are women.

The CDC reminds that proper contact lens care is the best way to prevent keratitis, and this is actually very simple and practical. For instance, the base guideline is to keep your contact lenses clean. This includes not only cleaning dirty lenses or replacing them when necessary, but also washing your hands before you touch them. Speaking of replacement, though, the CDC also says you should replace contact lens cases at least every three months.

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