October 11th, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report in August (coinciding with “Contact Lens Health Week” August 21-25) warning contact lens wearers of the risks of not following healthy wear and care practices. Teenagers were a particular target of the CDC campaign:

More than 6 in 7 adolescents (85 percent) who wear contact lenses report at least one habit that increases the chance of an eye infection, according to a report published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Eye infections can lead to serious problems, including blindness. All contact lens wearers can help prevent serious eye infections by correctly wearing and caring for their contact lenses.


85% of adolescents (ages 12-17) do it wrong, reporting these risky habits:

  • Not visiting an eye doctor at least once a year (44 percent)
  • Sleeping or napping while wearing lenses (30 percent)
  • Swimming while wearing lenses (27 percent)


The CDC found that adults don’t fare any better, making many of the same mistakes that teenagers make:

81 percent of young adults (ages 18-24), and 87 percent of adults (ages 25 and older) reported a habit that increases their chance of an eye infection and could threaten their vision.

  • The most frequently reported risky habits among young adults and adults were:
    • Not replacing lenses as often as prescribed (52 and 45 percent, respectively)
    • Not regularly replacing storage cases (41 and 42 percent)
    • Sleeping while wearing lenses (33 and 33 percent)
    • Swimming while wearing lenses (28 and 33 percent)


The CDC offers these words of wisdom to contact lens wearers, young and old(er):

Wearing contact lenses can increase your chances of getting a severe eye infection caused by germs commonly found in water. It is important for people who wear contact lenses to properly clean their lenses and regularly visit an eye care provider to keep their eyes healthy. CDC encourages parents of adolescents to promote healthy habits so their children can develop and maintain these healthy behaviors as young adults and adults.

  1. Replace your contact lens case regularly. Germs are more likely to get on the case when they are not replaced regularly. This leads to more complications and eye problems.
  2. Don’t sleep or nap while wearing contact lenses. Sleeping in contact lenses increases the chance of an eye infection by 6 to 8 times.
  3. Don’t swim or shower while wearing contact lenses. Contact lenses can carry germs from the water into the eye.



(Google Images)



One Response to Using Contact Lenses Correctly

  1. PS: “Don’t apply or remove your contact lenses over a sink; they will go down the drain and be lost or ruined. Because kids your age think they know better, you will not listen to me—when you lose them, call me up for a replacement.”
    This was the warning of my optometrist, who fortunately for me lived next door and had kids my age who became physicians. He was absolutely RIGHT ON, but he never admonished me for repeatedly replacing my lenses.
    When I went away to college, overwore my hard lenses, and suffered repeated corneal abrasions/ ulcers, I was too ashamed to notify him—but I bet he knew very well that I would behave stupidly in that regard too!


    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Dr. Ketyer has special interests in developmental pediatrics and preventative medicine, specifically how nutrition and the environment affect health. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. He completed his residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

    As one of the founding physicians of Pediatric Alliance, PC, Dr. Ketyer served as its president from 1997-2004. He has been practicing general pediatrics at Pediatric Alliance since 1990. Dr. Ketyer and his wife have three boys and live in Pittsburgh's South Hills. 

  • Note: The information included in these posts is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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