Contact lenses are a convenient and highly efficient way of correcting your vision without the hassle of wearing glasses. It’s often easier to play sport, socialise and work wearing contact lenses. Contact lens technology has advanced immeasurably over the last 20 years and having regular check-ups and tests with your contact lens practitioner is the best way to ensure that you are wearing the right contact lenses for you.
The down-side of contact lenses
There is a down-side to contact lenses though; no matter how good they are AT letting oxygen and hydration pass through to nourish the eye they are still a foreign body sitting on the surface of the eye, and they can be associated with eye infections, some of which are sight threatening.
A contact lens is like a ‘biofilm’ a sheet of plastic that is sitting on the warm and well-hydrated surface of the eye. Bugs like to grow in warm and damp environments; think of the mould that can grow with condensation on your window frames. The surface layer of your eye is called the epithelium, and it is highly effective at keeping harmful organisms out of the eye. However, as the contact lens moves on the surface of your eye (all good contact lenses move as you move your eyes back and forth), they can cause an opening or a break in this epithelial surface meaning that the organisms on the contact lens can use this opportunity to cause infection in the cornea.
Contact lenses at night
You must always remember to take your contact lenses out at night if they are not the “extended wear’ type that allows them to be kept in. Never clean them under the tap as tap water harbours some organisms such as Acanthamoeba that cause serious infection that can cause blindness. Acanthamoeba is a particularly serious infection where treatment is needed for a minimum of 12 months as the organisms can transform into a shape that protects them from treatment.
Contact lens free days
It is good to take them out as soon as you get home from work or classes or to have contact lens free days at the weekend or whenever your schedule allows. It is also critical to change your contact lens case regularly as it can act as a biofilm and the perfect environment for harmful organisms to grow too.
If you ever experience a red eye as a contact lens wearer and are sensitive to light, then you need an urgent eye examination as these are the classic symptoms of contact lens ulceration or infection. Take your lenses out and bring them to your consultation as we can send the lenses and the case off to the lab to help us identify the infection.
NEVER ignore these symptoms, your sight depends on it.