Don’t be blind to the risks of contacts!
Wearing reusable contact lenses could lead to a rare infection that causes sight loss, according to eye-opening new research.
People who wear multi-use lenses are nearly four times more likely to develop a corneal infection that causes blindness than people who use disposables, according to research published in the journal Ophthalmology.
Researchers from the University College of London found that reusing lenses, and wearing them overnight or in the shower increases the risk of getting the condition, known as acanthamoeba keratitis.
“In recent years we have seen an increase of acanthamoeba keratitis in the UK and Europe, and while the infection is still rare, it is preventable and warrants a public health response,” the study’s lead author, Professor John Dart, told Medical News.
During the study, researchers recruited over 200 patients from the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, including 83 people who had corneal infections, and compared them to 122 participants who came to clinics with other conditions.
They found that people who wore reusable soft contact lenses were 3.8 times more likely to develop acanthamoeba keratitis, compared to those who wore daily disposable lenses.
The researchers concluded that an estimated 30-62% of eye infections in the UK could be prevented if people switched from reusable to daily disposable lenses.
Overall, acanthamoeba keratitis — which causes the eye to become painful and inflamed — is responsible for about half of contact lens users who develop sight loss, according to researchers.
Researchers said that contact lens use is the no. 1 cause of corneal infection in patients with otherwise healthy eyes in countries in the northern hemisphere.
The ailment can be prevented by making sure your contact lens storage case is filled with fresh solution each time you open it and that you don’t sleep in your contact lenses, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Though acanthamoeba keratitis is rare, it’s responsible for about half of contact lens users who develop sight loss after a corneal infection.
“Contact lenses are generally very safe but are associated with a small risk,” Dart said. “Given that an estimated 300 million people across the globe wear contact lenses, it is important that people know how to minimize their risks for developing keratitis.”