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Focusing on Contact Lens Safety

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Proper Care Required

Contact lens users run the risk of infections such as pink eye (conjunctivitis), corneal abrasions, and eye irritation. A common result of eye infection is corneal ulcers, which are open sores in the outer layer of the cornea. Many of these complications can be avoided through everyday care of the eye and contact-lenses.

To reduce your chances of infection

  • Replace your contact lens storage case every 3-6 months.
  • Clean and disinfect your lenses properly.
  • Remove your contact lenses before swimming.
  • Never reuse any lens solution. Always discard all of the used solution after each use, and add fresh solution to your lens case.
  • Avoid using non-sterile water (distilled water, tap water and homemade saline) on your lenses. It can be a source of microorganisms that may cause serious eye infections.
  • Never use homemade saline solution, as tap and distilled water are not sterile.
  • Never transfer contact lens solutions into smaller travel size containers. This can affect sterility and may also leave you open to accidentally applying a harmful liquid to your eyes.
  • Never put your lenses in your mouth; saliva is not sterile.

"Also, any lenses worn overnight increase your risk of infection," says Saviola.

"This is because contact lenses stress the cornea by reducing the amount of oxygen to the eye. They can also cause microscopic damage to the surface of the cornea, making it more susceptible to infection."

Never ignore symptoms of eye irritation or infection that may be associated with wearing contact lenses. The symptoms include discomfort, excess tearing or other discharge, unusual sensitivity to light, itching, burning, gritty feelings, unusual redness, blurred vision, swelling and pain.

If you experience any of these symptoms

  • Remove your lenses immediately and keep them off.
  • Get in touch with your eye care professional immediately.
  • Keep the lenses. They may help your eye care professional determine the cause of your symptoms.
  • Report serious eye problems associated with your lenses to the MedWatch reporting program at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm

 

Decorative Contact Lenses

Every year, the approach of Halloween heightens fears at FDA that consumers will harm their eyes with unapproved decorative contact lenses. These are lenses that some people use to temporarily change their eye color or to make their eyes look weird--perhaps giving them an "eye-of-the-tiger" look.