This week’s blog on Being cautious when it comes to contact lenses has been contributed by Dr. Sandra Fiorentini, Specialist Ophthalmologist in Cornea, External Eye Diseases and Refractive Surgery (Vision Correction Surgery).
If you are considering independence from wearing prescription glasses or spectacles through purchasing or using contact lenses instead, the medical perspective should carefully be taken into consideration. Unfortunately, the medical perspective is only taken into account after complications arise with the use of prescription contact lenses, especially if you are not fully educated on the proper use and care of your contact lenses.
In the UK alone, approximately 4.2 million contact lens wearers represent 9 % of adults aged 15-64 years.
Since the mid 80’s, contact lenses have been increasingly sold through multiple channels, in some ways similar to an item of clothing, online for example.
However, unfortunately, in some cases, patient education and the correct indication to use them and wear them from an eye doctor’s point of view is not always taken into consideration, which has directly reflected negatively on the number of related eye diseases and infections which have been on an upward trend over the years.
Contact lenses are considered medical devices by the FDA, and therefore require a fitting and prescription from a doctor.
Contact lenses used for cosmetic purposes also require a prescription. Purchasing them from novelty shops or online vendors can lead to a heightened risk of bacterial infection, allergic reactions, and in some cases, severe and permanent damage to vision.
Keratitis is the most common infection that may result from wearing contact lenses. It is when the cornea, the clear, dome-shaped window of the eye, becomes infected. After any type of infection, a scar tissue stays in place permanently, which may in some cases be considered a sight threatening condition. If the cornea is severely scarred, or even a small scar formed in the center of the vision, a corneal transplant may be needed, which leads to a long road to recovery process.
Infectious keratitis related to contact lenses, according to Dr Sandra Fiorentini, is a major concern in the UAE both to herself and to other Cornea specialists..
This is a country with good weather in most time of the year with dozens of water parks and water sports availability besides a beautiful 1,135km of sea cost extension. Normally wearers don’t remove their lenses when they are in contact with water, which includes not only swimming(even with goggles) but also saunas and even showers.
The combination of direct water exposure to the eyes while wearing contact lenses increases significantly the risk of a specific keratitis caused by a microorganism called Acanthamoeba.
This type of infection can not only cause poor vision but in rare cases, a risk of losing the eye.
On September 2018 the international press released an outbreak of Acanthamoeba keratitis in the UK, mainly related to contact lenses misuse. Here are some points to consider for contact lens wearers:
- Ensure your contact lenses and hands are clean before touching or inserting them in your eyes.
- Avoid wearing contact lenses when you have direct contact with water to the eyes ( beach/pool/water activities, showers, etc)
- Avoid the use of contact lens solutions by switching to daily disposable contact lens use or, for those continuing to wear reusable lenses, maintenance of optimal lens care with effective solutions, not with large bottles of saline solution?
- Lastly, have your eyes regulary checked by an eye doctor, if you intend to be or if you are already a contact lenses wearer.