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Reusable contact lenses increase risk of serious eye infection

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Wearing reusable contact lenses almost quadruples the risk of a serious eye infection that can even cause blindness.

Wearing reusables increases the risk of Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK), a bacterial infection of the cornea.  Other risk factors include wearing contact lenses overnight or keeping them in while showering.

AK can dramatically reduce vision or even cause blindness, and although cases are rising, 90 percent of them are avoidable, say researchers from University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology.  It’s still very rare, however, affecting just one in 20,000 contact lens wearers.

The researchers recruited 205 patients from the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, which included 83 with AK whose case histories were compared with 122 patients who had other eye issues.

People who used reusable soft contact lenses, such as those on a monthly plan, had 3.6 times the risk of developing AK as someone who replaced their lenses daily.  Showering while wearing contacts increased the risk 3.3 times and wearing them overnight raised the risk 3.9 times.

Exposure to any type of water—such as hot tubs, swimming pools or lakes—also increase the risk.

People who don’t wear daily lenses can reduce their AK risk by maintaining good hygiene habits, such as washing and drying your hands before touching the eye to put in or remove lenses.  Regular check-ups with the optician are also important.

Ophthalmology, 2022; doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2022.08.002

Article Topics: contact lens, Cornea, Keratitis
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