Using contact lenses can cause serious eye infections and long-term damage to the eyes, federal health officials warned last week.
Around 20% of eye damage reported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the past 10 years was a result of contact-lens related infections, says a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Abnormalities with contact lenses are reported to the CDC, as they’re classified as medical devices.
“Around 41 million people in the United States wear contact lenses and benefit from the improved vision and comfort they provide,” Dr. Jennifer Cope, M.P.H., medical epidemiologist in the CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, said in a news release.
“While people who get serious eye infections represent a small percentage of those who wear contacts, they serve as a reminder for all contact lens wearers to take simple steps to prevent infections.”
The CDC’s report analyzed 1,075 contact lens infections from 2005 to 2015. The subjects reporting injuries said they had either a scarred cornea, required a corneal transplant, or lost some vision entirely. Over 10% of the reports had patients seeking emergency care, suggesting the severity of some contact lens-related mishaps.
“Contact lenses are a safe and effective form of vision correction when worn and cared for as recommended,” Michael Beach, director of CDC’s Healthy Water Program, said in a statement.
“However, improper wear and care of contact lenses can cause eye infections that sometimes lead to serious, long-term damage.”
The CDC suggests anyone using contact lenses should never wear them to sleep, always use fresh contact lens solution when cleaning, and replace lenses regularly.