A study published last week in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 1,075 reports from the past decade of corneal infections related to contact lenses.
Researchers used the reports from the Food and Drug Administration's Medical Device Report database and found that 20 percent of the reports described a patient with injuries resulting in decreased vision or a corneal scar, or requiring a corneal transplant.
Thomas Steinemann, a clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and practicing ophthalmologist at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, told NPR that about 1 million clinic and ER visits a year are associated with keratitis or inflammation of the cornea and contact lens use is a major risk factor for the corneal infection.
The report notes that "although contact lenses are a safe and effective form of vision correction if worn and cared for as directed, they pose an infection risk to wearers if not worn and cared for properly."
A high percentage of reports noted extended wear or sleeping in contact lenses and habitual or occasional sleeping in contact lenses has been shown to increase the risk of contracting microbial keratitis, the study notes.
Those who wear daily disposable lenses tend to have a lower risk for eye infections and fewer reports of infections were listed for patients wearing disposable lenses.
The CDC recommends that contact lens wearers avoid sleeping in contact lenses and exposing lenses to tap water, distilled water, or recreational water.
Return to News Home