Call for contact lens users to commit to healthy vision


Special to the Recorder

January is National Eye Care Month, making the start of the new year the perfect time to develop good habits – and if you’re a contact lens wearer, it may also be time to eliminate a few bad ones.

Ninety-nine percent of contact lens wearers in the United States report at least one behavior that puts them at risk for a contact lens-related eye infection – including wearing contacts for too long, keeping them on while in the pool or occasionally wearing them overnight.

While these may seem like minor offenses, a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found these oversights can lead to contact lens-related infections that can cause long-lasting eye damage. The study found nearly one in five contact lens-related eye infections result in serious issues, including scarred corneas, reduced vision or the need for a corneal transplant.

The good news is these infections are largely preventable, but to ensure the health of your eyes, it’s important to understand the association between contact lens care and corneas.

Contact lenses and corneal health

The cornea is the outer layer of the eye that acts as a clear, protective window. Unlike most tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to nourish or protect it against infection.

Many contact lens-related infections start as a corneal abrasion, or scratched eye – a common eye injury that causes discomfort and redness. Improper contact use causes bacteria to grow in the lens – and when the lens is put into the scratched eye, it increases the risk of bacteria getting in the abrasion and becoming infected.

Best practices

Fortunately, it’s easy to vastly reduce your risk of developing an eye infection by following contact lens best practices.

The most important practice is to follow your doctor’s protocol. Because they are so commonplace, it’s easy to forget that contact lenses are medical devices. Just like prescription medicine, you should use contacts as directed by your doctor – including regularly cleaning and replacing them.

Other good practices include washing and drying your hands before touching lenses, using fresh solution when cleaning, and removing them before going to sleep or swimming. It’s especially important to teach these practices to children or young adults who are just starting to wear contact lenses, as it will help them develop good lifelong habits.

In terms of contact lens type, daily disposable lenses are associated with the fewest risks, especially compared to extended wear lenses. Another option for lifelong contact lens wearers is LASIK, or laser eye surgery, which eliminates the need for glasses or lenses by reshaping the cornea and permanently correcting your vision.

If you do experience corneal irritation for more than a few days or develop an abrasion, please contact your eye doctor immediately. By getting early treatment, you can prevent a scratch from becoming an infection.

As we begin 2017, one of the easiest resolutions you can adopt is taking good care of your eyes. With proper contact lens use, you can keep looking forward to a promising new year with clear vision.

Dr. S. Akbar Hasan is a Ponte Vedra resident and a board certified, fellowship-trained cornea, LASIK and cataract specialist. For more information on Dr. Hasan and his practice, visit