Many people rely on contact lenses to improve their sight. Contact lenses can provide many benefits, but they are not risk-free -- especially if contact lens wearers don’t practice healthy habits and take care of their contact lenses and supplies. Serious infections can cause pain and even permanent vision loss, depending on the cause and how long the patient waits to seek treatment. Rare infections of the cornea called microbial keratitis are among the most serious complications related to contact lens wear.
Keratitis in contact lens wearers can be caused by many factors. One type of keratitis, called woman putting in contact lensmicrobial keratitis, can occur when germs invade the cornea. These germs are more likely to invade the eyes when contact lenses are worn for too long or are not cared for correctly. Microbial keratitis is a serious type of eye infection in contact lens wearers, which can lead to blindness or the need for corneal transplant in the most severe cases.
Complications commonly linked to contact lenses usually cause milder symptoms or no symptoms at all. They may resolve through temporarily not wearing contact lenses or with eye drops prescribed by an optometrist. Some of these complications include:
  • Allergies affecting the eyes
  • Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis: bumps that appear underneath the eyelid
  • Corneal abrasion: a scratch or scrape on the cornea
  • Contact Lens-induced Acute Red Eye (CLARE): red, irritated eyes
  • Corneal infiltrates: irritation of the cornea indicating inflammation and possible infection
  • Dry eyes
  • Neovascularization: new blood vessels growing onto the cornea, sometimes causing eye redness 
Keep your eyes healthy while wearing contact lenses by following these tips:Doctor placing contact lens in patient
  • Wash your hands. Make sure your hands are clean before handling your lenses. Use hot water and soap and ensure they are dried thoroughly. 
  • Rub and rinse your contacts with fresh solution. Never use water or saliva to clean off your contacts. 
  • Store your contacts in new solution. Always fill your contact lens case with fresh solution. Do not reuse old solution or “top off” the solution. Do not store them in water. 
  • Make sure the tip of your contact lens solution bottle does not touch anything. This could contaminate the bottle. 
  • Do not sleep in your contacts – unless your doctor says it’s OK. Extended wear contact lenses can be worn overnight, but other types cannot. 
  • Take out your contacts before showering, swimming or using a hot tub. Water may contain bacteria that can cause an infection. 
  • Replace your lenses as directed. There are various types of lenses and wear-time varies. If you’re unsure how long you should wear your contacts, consult your optometrist.    
  • Replace your contact lens case frequently. It’s recommended that you replace your case at least every three months. 
  • Remove your contacts immediately if you experience anything abnormal. If pain, discomfort, redness or blurred vision occurs after inserting your contacts, call your optometrist immediately. 
  • Always carry a backup pair of glasses. Make sure you’re prepared with glasses containing your current prescription; you never know when you may have to remove your contacts. Contact lens case

Contact lenses provide vision benefits, but they are not risk-free if wear and care instructions are not followed. If you are a contact lens wearer, your contact lenses should feel comfortable and allow you to see well. If they don’t, schedule an appointment for your eye doctor to re-check your eyes and lenses.
The contact lens center at The Eye Institute (TEI) of Salus University offers a full range of traditional and specialty contact lens services. If you are interested in contact lenses, contact us today for an exam and complete evaluation.