Risk of vision loss wearing contact lens as a result of an infection is higher than from LASIK
For many, contact lenses offer a welcome relief from the inconveniences of glasses—at least at first.
The main selling point of contacts, the fact that they actually sit on the eye, brings a host of benefits including higher visual clarity, greater practicality, and a certain level of inconspicuousness, but it also comes at a cost.
Unbeknownst to contact wearers as they revel in not being limited by a frame and not being worried about misplacement (unless they drop one). It’s only when you look over the longer term that you begin to see that the affects to your eye health far outweigh any temporary benefits.
What are the chances of infection?
Using contact lenses as a permanent mode of vision correction puts you at high risk of infection and eye damage. This includes serious problems such as corneal infections which affect the eye’s natural barrier to the elements—the epithelium. Such infections are characterised by irritation, pain, redness, watery eyes, or discharge, according to information from the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA).
Problems like this are even more likely to occur if you wear your contacts for too long or fail to stick to the recommended hygiene procedures—basically if you don’t take them out and clean them regularly. Both poor hygiene practice, along with sleeping in your contacts, are actually shown to further increase chances of infection by up to four times.
Some of the symptoms may appear similar to eye irritation—which we’ll look at next—and so one quick way to analyse the seriousness of the problem is to remove the contact lens. If this doesn’t relieve the symptoms, chances are you have an infection.
It’s also important to note that certain habits and lifestyle may also increase your chances of infection. For those who are partial to a cigarette or two, studies suggest people who smoke have a higher risk of infection: three times that of non-smokers.
What are the chances of vision loss?
Information from the BCLA states that vision loss due to corneal infection from contact lenses affects around six in 100,000 wearers annually. Vision loss as a result of LASIK is extremely rare, with the chances of complete vision loss being around roughly 1 in 5 million.
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Eye irritation is a common precursor to the more serious problems such as corneal infections. It often comes with an unwelcome discomfort and itchiness and appears at the most inappropriate times—particularly in those summer months when pollen and hayfever are in full force.
Unlike infections, eye irritation, if a result of a dirty, dusty, or damaged lenses, can be managed by removing your contacts for a period of time and cleaning them. Advice from the BCLA suggests asking yourself these three questions every time you wear your lenses:
- Do my eyes feel good with my lenses? (No discomfort)
- Do my eyes look good? (No redness)
- Do I see well? (No unusual blurring)
If your answer to any of these questions is no, it’s recommended to remove your lenses and contact an eye care professional immediately. This is just one of the day-to-day inconveniences in the maintenance of contact lenses.
Whereas glasses can be a nuisance at times, contacts make a habit of it.
From the lottery of putting them on in the morning and hoping they’re comfortable, to the hassle of taking their case and cleaning solution whenever you’re away for the night; contact lenses may seem more practical when first compared to glasses, but the reality is they’re far from it.
One of the big reminders of this is when you see a friend, or experience for yourself, loosing a contact lens and crawling on the ground in search of it. It’s funny to watch if it’s not you, but to be left squinting for the rest of the day is definitely no laughing matter.
If you’re the cautious type who is unlikely to loose a lens, unfortunately you’re still not free from disruptions in your day.
Extreme weather, such as heavy rain, strong winds, and snow, poses a big threat to contact wearers and more often than not ends in irritation or a lost lens. For that matter, you can also cross swimming off the cards—that is unless you have a pair of prescription goggles.
Much like glasses, contact lenses offer a great temporary solution to vision correction. If you choose to wear them for an extended period of time, it’s imperative you regularly remove them and keep them clean in order to avoid irritation, infection, and vision loss. The great thing is that today these problems are completely avoidable and all for a price that’s affordable. All it takes is a little time to realise the true cost of your vision.
If you would like to book a consultation at London Vision Clinic, or find out more about the risks of LASIK, leave us a comment or give us a call us on 020 7224 1005.