Common Contact-Wearing Habits to Avoid

Dr. Angela Seabright
Alyssa Witzleben

| 2 min read

Eye Health
About 45 million people wear contact lenses in the U.S. Formally known as ocular prosthetics, they provide a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Due to their small size and convenient design, contacts are extremely popular. However, they’re also a source of continuous controversy.
Contact lenses are frequently mishandled and misused. Some wearers ignore basic care instructions, which can lead to serious complications. For example: 1 out of 3 people don’t remove their contacts before sleeping or swimming. It’s a common practice that’s a definite health concern.
Don’t Wear Contacts to Bed
Throughout the day, contacts are exposed to various germs, dust and debris. By sleeping in your lenses, eyes become a Petri dish of particles. This increases your risk for an eye infection, which can cause redness, persistent itching, discharge, flaking and even vision loss.
Another factor to consider is oxygen. The eyes, specifically the cornea, need it to stay healthy. When lids are closed, the air supply is automatically cut off. Contacts act as an additional barrier making it nearly impossible for your eyes to get the oxygen exposure they need.
Don’t Swim in Contacts
To prevent eye irritation, the FDA advises against wearing contacts in any kind of water. Sockets can become a literal pool of bacteria, viruses and microbes. Therefore, it’s imperative to remove lenses before swimming to reduce your chances of an eye-related RWI (recreation water illness).
Swimming also inhibits natural tear production, which is necessary to avoid dryness. Plus, it can lead to Acanthamoeba Keratitis, a painful infection linked to a naturally-occurring amoeba found in water. They latch onto contacts causing severe pain, corneal ulcers and permanent vision damage.
Contact lenses can bring much-needed clarity. But they’re not to be worn in any and every situation. It’s important to properly remove and clean them before engaging in either of these actions. It will significantly reduce your chances of developing a harmful condition in the future.
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Photo credit: Min An

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