As a teenager, the idea of getting contact lenses to replace my glasses was beyond exciting. Living in Florida – the outdoors are a huge part of everyday life. As anyone with glasses knows, sweat can make it difficult to keep eye glass lenses clean and can actually make it difficult to see.
The first step toward this goal was a visit to the eye doctor. With great anticipation I positioned myself in the chair so the doctor could check my eyes. Unfortunately, the great amount of buildup I had about getting contacts came crashing down when I was told I had unusual astigmatisms in both eyes. Because of the extreme nature of the astigmatisms, contacts would not be an option. Without a doubt, I was beyond disappointed.
Regardless of my disappointment, life moved forward. A few years later the topic of contact lenses was put back on my radar when my brother developed a terrible infection in his eye making it impossible for him to wear his contacts. In an effort to understand the source of the infection I talked with my brother about his contact lens wearing. What he revealed was that he did not take them out every night. This is a very big deal, because without taking them out at night they are often not cleaned properly which is what led to my brother’s situation.
Today there are a variety of contact lens brands and types. For example, there are soft contacts, disposable contacts, and even colored contact lenses to change the color of your eyes. Innovation has come so far as to introduce bifocal, trifocal and progressive contact lenses. Progress has also been make in the field of contact lenses cleaning and storage. New options are created to reduce the chances of infection or eye irritation.
Despite all of the innovation, one issue remains constant – people are still not taking their lenses out at night! Infections caused by people sleeping in their lenses continues to be a major issue says Dr. Jon Femling, an assistant professor and the University of New Mexico:
“Falling asleep, or even napping, without removing your contact lenses can significantly increase the likelihood of serious health problems. If you want to avoid infection, and avoid a trip to the emergency department, proper eye care is a must.”Dr. Jon Femling
Dr.Femling’s comments are consistent with a report from the CDC. They recently followed the cases of 6 people who developed microbial keratitis after sleeping with their contacts. Microbial keratitis is an infection of the cornea (the transparent outer layer of the eye). This condition can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
All 6 cases studied by the CDC required months of antibiotic treatment to fight the infection and save the patients eye. I am not a fan of clichés but, when it comes to the behavior of sleeping with your contacts, quite literally – if you snooze, you could lose — your vision.