While modern corrective surgeries such as Lasik can restore vision without the hassle of corrective eye ware, more than 150 million Americans opt for some form of corrective device. Of these, 36 million choose to wear contact lenses.
July is eye injury prevention month. Contacts, although they offer benefits for many users, have particular safety concerns. Here are a few tips to keep your contacts safe and your vision keen and healthy.
The Hard And The Soft
Contacts come into two kinds: hard and soft lenses.
By far, soft lenses are the most common kind of contact worn. Flexible, soft contact lenses conform to the shape of the eye. Because of the close fit, soft lenses tend to stay in place – an attractive feature for those who lead an active lifestyle.
Hard contacts are rigid, gas permeable lenses that provide clean, crisp vision. Because of their gas permeability, hard contacts allow eyes to breathe better than most soft lenses, a feature which lessens the risk of infection.
Hard contacts take longer to become accustomed to – blurred vision and discomfort can occur until the eye acclimates to the rigid lens.
Concerns About Contacts
Wearing contact lenses changes the shape of the cornea, affecting tear production and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. These changes can cause eye problems, as well as act to exacerbate preexisting ones.
6% of contact wearers will develop some form of eye problem each year. While most of these will be fairly minor, contact-related issues account for 5% of eye injuries treated every year.
While the kinds of problems experienced by contact users can differ slightly according to the nature of the lenses they wear (hard or soft), among the leading causes of contact lens-related eye problems is failure to maintain the devices according to physician’s directions.
The problems wearers can suffer from range from minor irritation to vision loss due to infection.
Causes Of Complaints
Most people who wear contact lenses suffer no ill effects from them. For those who do, however, among the most common causes are:
- Poor fit – either too large or too small.
- Poor lens care – failure to clean the lenses.
- Damage to lenses
- Drying of lenses
- Allergic reaction to the lens itself
The most common cause of contact lens problems is improper or irregular maintenance.
Over time protein and lipid deposits form on the surfaces of contact lenses. Left untreated, they can cause irritation to the eye. Microbes can form films over the lens, impairing vision and putting the eye at risk of infection. Hair spray and makeup can also leave deposits on lenses, causing irritation and damage.
Using water instead of sterile cleaning solution can warp lenses, as well as function as a means to introduce pathogens to lenses.
Excessive drying of the lens can lead to deposit build up. Dry eyes can result in a variety of problems ranging from irritation to impaired vision.
If contacts are not removed for sleeping, the eye can suffer damage due to poor airflow. Further, irritants and microbial action can lead to serious complications, including ulcers and permanent vision loss due to infection.
Contact lenses are a common and safe option for those needing vision correction. But in order to work properly, they must be cleaned and maintained according to your doctor’s guide lines. A safe and reliable alternative to contacts, Lasik laser eye surgery can improve your vision and remove the need for corrective devices.
Dr. Silverman and the OCLI team are New Jersey’s leading provider of state-of-the-art laser eye procedures. Contact us today to schedule an exam and explore premium eye care options for all your vision needs.