Swimming with Contact Lenses Can Lead to Serious Eye Infections

Woman in swimming poolAbout 41 million Americans wear contacts, but very few of them know how dangerous the lenses can be when they fail to remove them before going to sleep or for a swim.

According to a recently published report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there have been more than 1,000 severe lens-related corneal infections in the last 10 years.

But these cases were among the worst types of eye infection, and 20 percent of cases involved patients that experienced vision loss or eye injuries which either led to corneal scar or required corneal transplants.

The CDC findings were reported in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

CDC investigators explained that many of these cases of severe inflammation of the cornea also known as keratitis were caused by improper use of contact lenses. According to the study’s background information, eye infections lead to nearly 1 million ER visits every year.

Experts said that the most common mistake is to sleep with your lenses on. The practice has been tied to 7 percent of eye infections in the report. Past studies had also shown that wearing contacts while asleep can boost the risk of eye disease more than six times.

Eye specialists recommend not sleeping with the lenses on even if they are designed for continuous or extended use.

Another risky practice that can land you in an ER is not discarding contacts when you are supposed to. About 8 percent of eye infections are linked with the practice. Furthermore, many users fail to properly sanitize the medical devices. For instance, many wearers use water instead of solution or reuse solution.

Experts explained that the use of old solution is a sure recipe for eye infections as the solution loses strength and the contacts can get contaminated with bacteria. It is highly recommended to trash the old solution, clean the case with new solution, and let it air dry before filling it up again.

Unfortunately, just 2 percent of contact lens users  go by these simple rules.

Many other users even shower or swim with the lenses on. All experts agree that you should take contacts off before going into a lake, swimming pool, hot tub and shower. Researchers explained that the medical devices can trap harmful bacteria and promote eye infections. One of the most common condition you can get is Acanthamoeba keratitis, an eye inflammation caused by Acanthamoebas, microscopic animals that dwell in lake water and soil.
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