It’s a familiar story. After a late night out you stay at a friend’s and fall asleep in your contacts, or maybe you slip them out and pop them in tap water because your solution and case is at home.
In the morning your eyes hurt, they're red and feel gritty. You don’t think anything of it, you’ve done it before and you go home totally unware that you could be on your way to a bad eye infection or worse; contracting a rare eye disease that threatens your sight. Unbelievable? Not really.
Take Sairia, one of our patients who lost a year of her university course and badly damaged her sight due to poor contact lense care.
What should contact lens wearers avoid?
These diseases can be contracted anywhere in the UK, and the risk of infection is raised if people:
- Wear contact lenses in the shower or when swimming
- Sleep in lenses (unless your optician has told you to do that)
- Do not wash or dry their hands before touching their contact lenses
- Leave their lenses in water overnight or spit on them when they are dry or have fallen out of the eye
- Overwear their lenses including disposable ones
Diseases that can result from poor contact lens care
Corneal infection (known as microbial keratitis) in contact lens wearers affects around 4 per 10,000 wearers each year and is mainly caused by bacteria, which stick to contact lenses these microorganisms become more resistant and harmful.
Acanthamoeba keratitis is a more rare form of microbial keratitis, occurring in around 2 per 100,000 wearers per year, although it varies regionally. It is a more severe form of infection and 85% of cases occur in contact lens wearers who are otherwise fit and healthy.
Fungal keratitis can also occur with contact lens wear but occurs most often in people who sustain eye injuries from agricultural or gardening accidents, ocular surface disease and those with immunosuppression. This infection, like Acanthamoeba keratitis is one of the severest forms of corneal infection that can occur in contact lens wear.
More about the campaign
At Moorfields Eye Hospital our specialists have noticed a big rise in cases of acanthoemeba, which is why we're running the Healthy Habits, Healthy Eyes campaign to get the “protect your eyes” message out there to young contact lens wearers.
Don’t end up in the naughty cornea - protect yourself – take care of your eyes and wear contact lenses safely.
You can keep up to date with the campaign on twitter by following #naughtycornea.