4 Eye Problems That Are Caused By Improper Contact Lens Use

Contact lenses are safe if you wear and care for them properly, but it's easy to develop bad habits that put your eyes at risk. According to the American Optometric Association, about half of contact lens wearers don't replace their lenses as often as they should, while others use ineffective lens cleaners or sleep while wearing their lenses. These bad habits can lead to a variety of serious eye problems.

Corneal ulcers

Corneal ulcers are sores on your cornea, the front surface of your eye. They develop when bacteria or viruses get into your eye, and contact lenses can make this easier by damaging the surface of your eye. Your eye can become damaged when the edges of your lenses scrape your cornea, or when dirt or other small particles get stuck beneath the lens.

Corneal ulcers cause severe eye pain, along with redness and the feeling that something is stuck in your eye. You may also notice pus draining out of your eye or blurred vision. If the ulcer gets very large, you'll be able to see a white spot in the middle of your cornea when you look in the mirror.

Keratitis

Any part of your body can become inflamed, and your corneas are no exception. This inflammation, called keratitis, can sometimes be caused by an infection, but it can also be non-infectious. Wearing your contact lenses for too long, getting scratches on your eyes from your lenses, or not cleaning your lenses well enough are all behaviors that can lead to keratitis.

Keratitis makes your eyes red and sore, and you may feel like you have something gritty in your eye. You may have trouble opening your eyes due to the pain. It can be treated with medicated eye drops, but untreated, it can cause serious vision problems, including blindness.

Giant papillary conjunctivitis

Your conjunctiva is the tissue that protects the surface of your eye, and like your corneas, it can become irritated by contact lenses. If the conjunctiva becomes severely irritated, red bumps called papillae can form, leading to giant papillary conjunctivitis. This condition is common, but you can avoid it by practicing good contact lens hygiene.

The red bumps are a very visible symptom, but they're not the only one. This condition also makes your eyes painful, red, and itchy. You may also see pus collecting in the corners of your eyes, and your vision may become blurred. Your optometrist will treat this condition with steroid creams, and you'll need to keep your lenses clean and replace them regularly to prevent a recurrence. 

Acanthamoeba infection

Acanthamoeba is a type of parasite that is found in water, such as lakes, swimming pools, and even tap water. Swimming or bathing while wearing your contact lenses can allow the parasite to become trapped between your lenses and the surface of your eyes, which encourages the infection. Washing your lenses in tap water can also introduce the parasite into your eyes.

When this parasite gets into your eye, it causes a serious and sight-threatening eye infection. Symptoms include severe pain, redness, watering eyes, and blurred vision. It can be treated with prescription medications if it's caught early, but if it's not treated in time, you can suffer from vision loss or even total blindness.

Contact lenses are safe for your eyes if you use them properly, but not everyone does that. To keep your eyes safe, remember to replace your lenses on schedule and to take them out when you go to sleep. Always clean them with an optometrist approved contact lens solution, not tap water. If you're not sure if you're looking after your lenses properly, make an appointment with your optometrist to discuss your routine. For more information, contact a local eye clinic like Granville Mall Optical


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