CDC Survey Finds Almost All Contact Lens Wearers Put Eyes at Risk of Infection

CDC Survey Finds Almost All Contact Lens Wearers Put Eyes at Risk of Infection
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August 21, 2015

If you wear contacts, you're likely guilty of doing at least one thing that puts your eyes at risk.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study estimates that almost all the 41 million contact wearers in the U.S. may be engaging in at least one behavior known to increase the risk of eye infections. Nearly one-third of survey respondents reported going to the doctor for red or painful eyes related to their contacts.

More than 99 percent of survey respondents reported at least one risky behavior. More than 80 percent of contact lens wearers keep their lens cases for longer than recommended. Contact lens cases should be replaced at least once every three months.

About 55 percent of contact lens wearers don't fill their long-overused cases with fresh solution. These wearers topped off old solution with some new solution.

If you wear your contacts to bed, you're in good company. Fifty percent of wearers sleep in their contacts.

The CDC says that studies have already linked each of these behaviors to an increased risk of eye infections by five times or more.

"Good vision contributes to overall well-being and independence for people of all ages, so it's important not to cut corners on healthy contact lens wear and care," CDC Medical Epidemiologist Jennifer Cope said on the agency's website. "We are finding that many wearers are unclear about how to properly wear and care for contact lenses."

So what should you be doing? To prevent eye infections, the CDC says, contact lens wearers should:

  • Wash hands with soap and water and dry them well before touching contact lenses
  • Take contacts out before sleeping, showering or swimming
  • Rub and rinse contacts in disinfecting solution each time they remove them
  • Rub and rinse the case with contact lens solution, dry with a clean tissue and store it upside down with the caps off after each use
  • Replace contact lens cases at least once every three months
  • Avoid "topping off" solution in lens case (adding fresh solution to old solution)
  • Carry a backup pair of glasses in case contact lenses have to be taken out.

More information about preventing eye infections and proper contact lens case can be found at cdc.gov/contactlenses.