Contact Lens infections
Contact lens use in the United States in fairly prevalent. According to a study published by the NIH, “In 2016, an estimated 3.6 million adolescents aged 12–17 years (14.5% of adolescents), 7.5 million young adults aged 18–24 years (24.4% of young adults), and 33.9 million older adults aged ≥25 years (15.5% of adults) in the United States wore contact lenses. “
The risk of contact lens infection is strongly associated with one of more non compliance factors, such as sleeping with contact lenses, failure to comply with contact lenses replacement schedule, failure to comply with contact lens solution and case instructions, swimming with contact lenses.
Of note, the population with the highest risk of needing visit to an eye care provider to address a red or painful eye from a contact lens infection was higher in adults than in adolescents. This is may be due to the fact that most eye care providers use daily disposable contact lenses in teenagers, this modality being the safest in regards to the rate of contact lens infection.
Contact lenses infection cover a wide range of categorird. As a matter of fact, some red eye associated with contact lens use are not infectious in nature but inflammatory. Some of the true infections encompass corneal ulcers, that can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness, for some unlucky patients with a central corneal ulcer. Fortunately this is rare, as most patients get prompt attention from their optometrist or ophthalmologist to diagnose and treat this contact lens infection.
Over the years, contact lenses materials have tremendously improved and more frequent contact lens replacement made infections less likely.
What are the symptoms of a contact lens infection?
Any contact lens user who experiences eye pain, redness, discomfort, foreign body sensation, or changes in vision should promptly consult with an eye care professional. We recommend patients against visiting urgent care centers to address contact lens infections since those centers do not usually have the equipment and the experience to treat those conditions.
Those corneal ulcers need to be addressed well and fast. Trained eye professionals have experience in treatment and management of contact lens infections. Even those trained professionals will sometimes send their patients to a corneal specialist ophthalmologist to optimize patients vision outcomes.
How are they treated?
Contact lens infections treatment depends on the nature of the infectious agent. Each treatment is tailored to individual patients based on the clinician’s impression. Some infections need to be cultured, specially if they fail to respond to empirical treatment. Some infections are notoriously difficult to diagnose such as acanthamoeba keratitis and should be managed by corneal specialists. Most contact lens infections respond well to commercially available antibiotics eyedrops , some others will require fortified antibiotics.
How can I prevent contact lens infections?
In our Miami eye center, we recommend all our patients to be perfectly compliant with contact lenses instructions. Those include never sleeping with contact lenses, never exposing contact lenses to fresh/tap water, not swimming with contact lenses, and replacing contact lenses per manufacturer recommendation. Lastly, we tell our patients to not wait should they experience any symptom of a potential infection. Patients are told to remove their contact lenses and come in or call immediately.