DP: Eyecare Column: Contact Lens Update
Q: I have friends who wear their contacts continuously for a month or more, and seem fine. That’s sounds pretty nice, but is that ok?
A: You are right, in that we do see patients ,not uncommonly, who wear their contact lenses for very long periods of time….and sometimes that means non-stop, overnight around the clock! To be blunt, this is a very, very bad idea. Studies have proven that anyone wearing contacts overnight has a much higher risk of corneal infections and potential permanent vision damage. In fact, the FDA has not approved a new lens for overnight wear ( also called “extended wear” ) for many years. So generally, we do not recommend overnight lens wear for any patients these days. It is far safer to remove your lenses at bedtime.
Learn the Effects and Causes
I believe the reason some people “get away” with those unsafe wearing habits is their age. Younger people generally have better vascular systems and the body is better able to defend and repair itself from damage. Overnight, the clear tissue on the surface of our eyes, the cornea, naturally swells a little. This is why we are all a little light sensitive when we first open our eyes after sleeping. When you sleep with a contact lens on your eyes, your corneas have an additional barrier to oxygen. In our lifetime, our eyes gradually lose the ability to survive this repeated oxygen deprivation.
Many patients eventually end up with a corneal abrasion or infection because of this. Fortunately, with prompt and accurate medical treatment we are able to restore the cornea to clear healthy status…..but not always. Some patients are left with a cloudy patch in the cornea the rest of their lives….and if that cloudy tissue is in the visual axis, 20/20 is never again achieved.
Every contact lens has a recommended replacement schedule, either each day, or every two weeks, or every 30 days. And those FDA guidelines mean NOT wearing lenses while you sleep. Most new contact materials are now designed for daily or monthly cycles, with dailies being the fastest growing category.
The bottom line:
1. Do not sleep in your contact lenses
2. Discard and replace your lenses as your doctor prescribed
3. Never re-use solution, use fresh disinfectant every night
4. Replace your storage case at least every three months.
Call Morgantown Eye Associates on 304-381-5353 to schedule an eye exam with our Morgantown optometrist.
Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT
Just in case you missed them, here are some of our previous blog posts :