The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has organized the Contact Lens Health Week from August 19 to August 23. The week is being honored by CDC in collaboration with various eye care partners across the country. The week aims to raise public awareness and promote healthy wear and care of contact lenses.
Increased awareness about contact lenses and the importance of maintaining proper hygiene while wearing lenses correctly encourages the wearers to adopt and practice healthy habits to reduce the risk of getting eye infections.
The Contact Lens Health Week covers three essential areas:
1. Healthy wear and care practices for contact lenses
2. Risks associated with not using contact lenses correctly
3. Regular visits and appointments with eye care professionals.
Covid-19 and Contact Lens Wear and Care
This Contact Lens Health Week is more important than it ever was. It is essential to wash your hands before handling your contact lenses due to the onset of Covid-19 transmission. Handwashing is a critical factor to prevent and fight against not just Covid-19 but also eye infections.
Failure to store, clean, and wear your contact lenses can increase the chances of getting germs in your eyes which can further cause complications. Contact lens-related eye infections can leave long-lasting damage to your vision, which are in some cases preventable. Even minor infections can cause pain and disrupt your day-to-day life. Contact lens wear and care habits, the right supplies, and the right eye care professionals are essential to keep your eyes healthy.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) suggests people switch to glasses temporarily from contact lenses to reduce the risk of eye and hand contact.
As per the AAO experts, though there is no evidence of contracting Covid-19 through wearing contact lenses, people wearing lenses often touch their eyes and face more than others. This might increase the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. The statement has opened the doors to certain misconceptions.
About Contact Lenses
Who uses contact lenses?
1. Over 45 million people across the United States are currently using contact lenses for vision correction.
2. Females wear two-thirds of contact lenses.
3. The average age of people who wear contact lenses globally is 31 years.
4. Approximately 8% of contact lens wearers are below 18, 17% are between 18-24, and 75% are adults above the age of 25.
5. Contact lenses are considered medical devices in the US and are regulated by the FDA.
6. The first contact lenses were made out of plastic and were produced between 1938-1940 in the US.
6. Soft contact lenses came into the picture in 1971 in the US.
Benefits of wearing contact lenses
1. People can use various methods to enhance vision; contact lenses are one of the several effective ways to do so.
2. Contact lenses help people see better without altering their appearance or interfering with their daily lives.
3. Children and teens feel dramatically better about themselves when they wear contact lenses, hence uplifting their self-esteem.
4. Compared to wearing glasses, children switch to contact lenses with significant improvement in their perceived appearance, participation in school activities, and satisfaction with their vision.
5. There are specially designed contact lenses that can improve the ability to focus better and reduce poor distance vision.
Complications and Risk Factors
1. Serious eye infections can lead to blindness in some people. 1 out of every 500 contact lens users suffers from the same every year.
2. If healthy contact lens wearing habits are not followed properly, there can be severe eye infections.
3. Between 40%-90% of people who wear contact lenses do not follow proper eye hygiene and care instructions for their lenses.
4. Almost 99% of people report at least one contact lens hygiene behavior associated with an enhanced risk of eye infections in the past.
5. Not cleaning and replacing contact lenses regularly can lead to a higher risk of complications. One of them is Keratitis, a painful eye infection that is linked to improper contact lens use.
Healthy Habits To Wear Contact Lenses Safely
To help protect your eyes, you need to wear contact lenses safely. To do the same, people need to take a pledge to follow these healthy habits this Contact Lens Health Week:
Do not sleep with your contact lenses on
Don’t sleep in your contact lenses unless you are prescribed to do so by your eye care professional. Sleeping with your contact lenses on can cause eight times higher risk of an eye infection.
Wash your hands regularly
Wash your hands with soap and water regularly before you handle your contact lenses. Also,
dry your hands thoroughly before you touch your contact lenses.
Keep water away from contact lenses.
Water can quickly introduce germs into your eyes through contact lenses. Therefore, it is vital to remove your contact lenses before you shower or swim.
Properly clean your lenses.
To clean your contact lenses carefully, you need to rub and rinse your lenses with the disinfecting solution provided with your lenses every time you remove them. Never use water or saliva to do the same. Do not “top off” the contact lens solution and mix the new one with the old one. Use only fresh contact lens disinfectant solutions in your case.
Take care of your lens case.
Clean your contact lens case by rubbing it and rinsing it with the disinfectant solution with your contact lenses. Never clean the case with water. Once washed with the solution, empty it and dry it with a clean tissue. Store it upside down without the cap after every use.
Talk to your eye care professional.
Be in touch with your eye care professional during and between appointments. Discuss your contact lens wear and care habits suitable for you to prevent any infections. Visit your eye care professionals in regular intervals as discussed between you and your eye care provider.
If there is any pain, discomfort, redness, swelling, or blurred vision, remove your contact lenses immediately and contact your eye doctor.
Carry a pair of glasses with you, according to your prescription, as a backup, in case you have to take your contact lenses out.
Special tips for people who only wear contact lenses
- If possible, wear disposable contact lenses.
- If you do have your current prescription, order a replacement online in advance.
- Replace your contact lenses with new ones regularly. If that is not possible, do clean the lenses properly, along with your contact lens case.
- Switch to a hydrogen peroxide-based contact lens cleaning solution
- Do not wear contact lenses if you are sick with any symptoms.
- Do not over-wear your contact lenses, only wear them as directed by your eye care professional.
- If your contact lenses are expired, contact your eye care professional immediately.
- Use a fresh solution every time you soak your contact lenses. Do not mix old one with new ones in your contact lens case.
You only have one pair of eyes. Take care of them!
When it comes to wearing contact lenses, healthy lens wearing habits mean healthy eyes. When cared for properly, contact lenses can provide you with comfort and convenience to work, live and play during your lifetime.
While contact lenses are safe and effective, they are not entirely risk-free, especially when not cared for correctly. Contact lenses are just medical devices. Failure to clean, store, and wear them properly as directed can increase the risk of eye infections like microbial Keratitis. Therefore, it is essential to take a pledge this Contact Lens Health Week to practice healthy habits when wearing contact lenses to reap all the benefits.
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