As one of the 45 million estimated contact lens wearers in America, I try to follow all the rules when it comes to healthy contact lens wear and care.
For example, I always make sure to take out my contacts before going to sleep and I rarely wear them beyond the recommended time of use.
However, I would be lying if I said I took my contact lenses out before I shower (seriously, how am I supposed to shave my legs effectively with my 20/85 vision?)
That might change after a new study recently discovered that wearing contacts in the shower is not only dangerous — but can sometimes lead to blindness.
Researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital, located in United Kingdom, reported a rise in the infection known as Acanthamoeba keratiti. This infection is caused by a bacteria called acanthamoeba, which is found in tap water. When contact lenses come in contact with water from the shower, pool, or when washing your face, the user can get infected.
"This increase in cases highlights the need for contact lens users to be aware of the risks," lead author and professor John Dart said. "‘People who wear reusable contact lenses need to make sure they thoroughly wash and dry their hands before handling contact lenses, and avoid wearing them while swimming, face washing or bathing."
He continued, "Daily disposable lenses, which eliminate the need for contact lens cases or solutions, may be safer and we are currently analyzing our data to establish the risk factors for these."
The most severely affected are left completely blind, while others are left with just 25 percent of their eyesight. In 2016, there were 65 reported cases — up from 10 in 2013.
The CDC also warns contact wearers to avoid showering in their lenses, and to never wear them in a hot tub or while swimming. The organization also advises everyone never to store contacts in water — but rather in disinfecting solution or saline.
In 2016, 59-year-old paramedic Andrew Carthew lost an eye when he washed his lenses with water and was infected with Acanthmoeba Keratiti. The infection got so bad, Andrew could only lie in a dark room with sunglasses on before doctors performed surgery and were forced to remove his eye.
So, from just washing his contact lenses in tap water, Andrew lost his eye completely. And there are plenty of more horror stories when it comes to not properly taking care of your contacts.
On reddit, contact lens wearer shared their tales of caution with fellow short- and near-sighted users. "I didn't clean my monthly's properly and developed an ulcer on my cornea," one commenter wrote.
Another added, "I have bad astigmatism. I wore hard contacts for 20 years. Then I got the mother of all infections. The lenses had carved circular channels into my corneas that provided a habitat for bacteria. Was never able to wear lenses again as the channels were permanent."
And let's not forget about how doctors discovered 27 contact lenses in one woman's eye. Yes, 27 lenses in one eye at the same time. According to a report published in the British Medical Journal, the woman wore monthly disposal lenses for 35 years. Due to her deep-set eyes, and the fact that she had poorer vision in one eye, it is believed she was not aware she failed to remove some lenses over time.
Doctors eventually removed 17 lenses bound together by mucus, while another 10 were found by a surgeon using a microscope. The patient just thought the irritation she felt was due to dry eyes and old age. Yikes.
So, long story short — don't be lazy when it comes to taking care of your eyes and contact lenses.
[h/t Grazia Daily]