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Contact Lens Problems: Hypoxia - Topic Overview

Hypoxia occurs when the cornea does not get enough oxygen. It is the most common complication of contact lens wear, especially extended-wear lenses.

The cornea has no blood supply of its own, so it gets oxygen only from tears and directly from the atmosphere. A contact lens reduces the oxygen supply to the cornea, making the cornea swell. Wearing contacts overnight further decreases the amount of oxygen that gets to the cornea.

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Gas-permeable hard contact lenses have almost eliminated some problems, such as overwearing syndrome and corneal clouding. Problems that still occur include hazy vision caused by mild corneal swelling (edema) or warping. Over time, corneal hypoxia may cause serious problems with the cornea.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 16, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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