This past week, August 24th-28th 2015, was Contact Lens Health Week set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is a great article by Carina Storrs posted on CNN.com that shows the devastating effects improper use of contact lenses have on eyes and vision.
The CDC conducted a study regarding contact lenses that revealed that 41 million American adults wear contact lenses; however, 99% of that population wear, wash, or store their contacts in an unhygienic way. In addition, 50-87% of contact lens wearers sleep or nap in their contacts, 50% fail to replace their contacts at all, 82% fail to replace their contacts as recommended by their eye doctor and 55% keep the old solution and just “top” it off instead of replacing it. The results can be catastrophic, leading to permanent ocular damage including severe infections and corneal scarring significant enough to require a corneal transplant.
On the “everyday” side of the coin, what I see in my office on a daily basis is that these habits lead to many patients experiencing at a minimum, dry eye and contact lens intolerance. What many people do not realize is that even though contact lenses are prescribed frequently and are considered a cosmetic alternative to glasses by many insurance companies, contact lenses are a medical device. Misuse of these devices can lead to damaging results just as if someone were to take the wrong medication, the wrong amount of medication or the wrong medication for their condition.
LASIK can be an alternative to contact lens wear. LASIK is a medical procedure that has over 25 years of documented success. There has been an article published wherein the author concluded that having LASIK is more beneficial for the health of the eyes over time when a thorough screening is done to make sure the patient is a good candidate for LASIK.