About Eye Diseases for Contact Lens Wearers

Contact lenses have a lot to offer someone with poor vision. And at such an affordable price, they seem an attractive alternative to both glasses and Laser Eye Surgery.

Some of the greatest advantages of contact lenses are:

  • You can’t snap or break them
  • They don’t fog up
  • You can wear them while exercising
  • You can buy them as and when you need them
  • They don’t require a large upfront investment

So there’s no denying contact lenses have their strong points. But like any other quick-fix solution, they come with an equal number weaknesses:

  • They are easily lost
  • They don’t perform well in extreme weather conditions
  • They can’t be worn for certain sports and activities like swimming
  • They require a certain level of care and maintenance
  • They can cause dry eyes and irritation
  • They cost more than Laser Eye Surgery over time

Some of these points may sound trivial to those who are new to wearing contact lenses and experiencing their benefits — particularly ex-glasses users. And it wouldn’t be too bad if that all their drawbacks. But the thing is, the list doesn’t end there.

Being a contact lens wearer is in some ways like being an ice road trucker. When nothing bad happens, it’s a good day. But when something does go wrong, it can be disastrous.

Unfortunately, due to the set guidelines that exist for wearing and looking after your lenses, it’s also not too difficult for things to go wrong. As a result, failure to store and clean them properly, wearing them for too long, or not replacing them when necessary, are all factors that can contribute to the long-term degradation of your vision.

Keratitis: An infection of the cornea

Although many contact wearers go through their life without suffering major problems, they all carry the risk of developing an eye infection. The most common of which is keratitis — an infection of the cornea.

Keratitis can spawn from a number of causes and can therefore affect the eye in various ways. Herpes, fungus, bacteria, and microbes are all known to lead to keratitis — some to more serious cases than others. For example, acanthamoeba — a microscopic amoeba commonly found in soil, fresh water, and other habitats — can lead to a very difficult to treat form of keratitis.

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There are several types of keratitis which anyone considering or wearing contacts should be aware of. Here we’re going to look at the four main ones:

Corneal ulcer

An open sore in the outer layer or ‘epithelium’ of the cornea. Although not as common, it can result from untreated corneal infections, physical and chemical trauma, corneal drying and exposure, and contact lens overwear and misuse. Corneal ulcers are a serious problem which can result in loss of vision or blindness.

Bacterial keratitis

An eye infection which can be caused by bacteria found in water, soil, plants, and sewage. Bacterial keratisis can affect both contact and non-contact wearers, and is commonly caused by two types of bacteria: Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.

Fungal keratitis

One of the more serious and painful infections caused by fungal organisms. Some fungi that are known to commonly cause fungal keratitis are Fusarium species, Aspergillus species, and Candida species.

Amoebic keratitis

An uncommon but very harmful infection which could cause long-term vision damage caused by an organism found in tap water, swimming pools, spas etc. Acanthamoeba organisms do not generally cause harm to humans, but some species can cause a serious eye disease if they infect the cornea — something that is most common in contact wearers.

The takeaway message is that, as a contact wearer, keratitis is your worst enemy. It’s the most common and most serious complication that could not only leave you with impaired vision, but the need for a corneal transplant.

If you are worried you may have an infection or simply want to be prepared in the event that you do, you can refer to this list of symptoms as recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). If you find yourself suffering from any, which include those on the following list, contact your eye doctor as soon as you can:

  • Blurry vision
  • Unusual redness of the eye
  • Pain in the eye
  • Tearing or discharge from the eye
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • The sensation of something in your eye.

If you’re ready to ditch the contacts and book a consultation at London Vision Clinic, leave us a comment or give us a call us on 020 7224 1005.

Dr Tim Archer
Dr Tim Archer

Dr Timothy Archer graduated from Oxford and Cambridge Universities with an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and a postgraduate degree in Computer Science. He joined the clinic in 2003, where he established his career specialising in laser refractive surgery research alongside Professor Reinstein. Today, he manages the in-house research team, of which achievements include 124 peer-reviewed papers, 32 book chapters, over 100 scientific articles and a published textbook. He also oversees and edits the content on London Vision Clinic’s website.

About Eye Diseases for Contact Lens Wearers

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