Bacterial Infections Common for Contact Wearers
Contacts have become less of a rare commodity and more of a necessity for those with vision problems who do not want to be troubled with wearing glasses every day. But as common as contacts are, so are the bacterial infections they can harbor.
Many contact wearers use their contacts in ways that can be harmful to their eyes. One specific case of a bacterial infection was recently reported by CNN. Chad Groeschen, a 39-year-old contractor, had an itchy eye that he assumed was due to allergies. He soon noticed the health of his eye worsening – it became “goopy” and he had a problem fully seeing out of it. Groeschen soon visited the Cincinnati Eye Institute and was diagnosed with a bacterial infection that was destroying his cornea (the outer layer that protects the eye). CNN reports, “Groeschen had been using extended wear contact lenses, and only taking them out every week to clean.” The FDA has approved these type of lenses, however, the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that this type of use “increases the risk of infection.”
It turns out that contact lenses help to incubate bacteria in the eye. A new report by the CDC found that out of 41 million adult contact wearers in the U.S., 99% wear, wash or store their lenses in “unhygienic ways”.
Some mistakes that can jeopardize your eyes are:
- Wearing contacts while sleeping
- Not replacing old contacts with new contacts
- Not replacing old contact cases with a new case
- Showering with lenses in your eye
- Keeping old contact lens solution in the case
According to Dr. Jennifer R. Cope, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC, “Individuals are likely doing at least one, if not more, of these behaviors. We think there’s an event where maybe you seed the contact lens or your case with one of the microorganisms that can cause infection and then subsequent behavior can allow that to amplify so it’s causing an infection.”
If you are one of the many who think contact lenses are great for wearing overnight, think again! Dr. William J. Faulkner, director of urgent services and one of the doctors treating Groeschen at the Cincinnati Eye Institute, reports that this kind of thinking “…probably caused an infection with Pseudomonas, one of the worst types of bacterial infection in the eye. The infection became so bad that some of the cells in his cornea started to die. Now that the infection has cleared, Groeschen still has scaring from the damage and there is a good possibility he will need a cornea transplant.”
Always practice good eye health practices and if you notice any prolonged pain, redness or swelling in the eye, take out the contacts and see your eye doctor immediately. Don’t wait until it’s too late to treat your bacterial infections!