Dirty contact lenses put wearers at risk of blindness

London: Almost three quarters of contact lens wearers are risking blindness because of their dirty habits, according to a new study out today. The new figures show one in five people lick their contact lenses before putting them in their eyes and two out of five apply their lenses with dirty hands.

Shockingly over 15% of wearers will pick an unwashed contact lens off the floor and pop it in their eye and 70% of people keep their lenses in for far too long every day. But careless contact lens wearers rarely realise their bad habits increase the risk of their contracting eye diseases, including conjunctivitis and acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare but very painful and potentially blinding infection of the cornea, the transparent covering at the front of the eye.

Men are the lazy ones when it comes to caring for their eyes, with more than half sleeping in their lenses and 44% not bothering to wash their hands before putting their lenses in. But surprisingly women have the dirtiest habits. Nearly a quarter of women lick their lenses before popping them in their eyes and 16% will use a dirty lens they have dropped on the floor, according to research by the UK’s College of Optometrists. And you have heard of sharing make-up, some women even share their contact lenses with their best friends.

Experts warn even habits that seem harmless such as washing lenses in tap water or with a different cleansing solution can damage the wearers’ eyes. Tap water contains bacteria that can blind you and using the wrong solution not only harms the lens but can also produce allergic reactions or even burn the eye.

Optometrists advise contact lens wearers never to wear other people’s lenses, a lens that is chipped or damaged or put the wrong lens in the wrong eye. The experts add people should always clean their lenses either after wearing them or before putting them in their eyes and to make sure their hands are clean before handling them.
And a final warning, don’t wear your lenses too long or sleep in them and visit an optometrist at least every two years.

Kevin Lewis, President of the College of Optometrists said: “Good eye care is crucial for everyone but even more important for those of us who wear contact lenses. Poor hygiene can lead to infections which range from a simply uncomfortable but temporary problem to a very nasty health issue that may lead to blindness in a matter of days.”

“Our eyes are precious and we need to appreciate that treating them carelessly and with bad hygiene habits is likely to cause problems in the future.”

For more information visit www.college-optometrists.org