Can Contacts Make You Blind?

Wearing contacts improves your vision, offers convenience, and even adds a touch of style to your fashion sense. Unlike glasses, when you wear contact lenses, you can freely participate in outdoor activities like sports and driving cars.

However, amid all these appeals, there are potential risks associated with wearing contact lenses. There have been eye infections, and worst cases leading to blindness.

This article will expose the risks and precautions associated with wearing contacts. We will also look at prevention and care tips.

Understanding the Risks: Contact Lenses and Vision Loss

There are several risks to wearing contact lenses. Sometimes, these risks often result in vision loss. That’s why you must follow instructions from your eye doctor about the care of your lenses.

Potential Risks to Eye Health

No matter the symptoms you experience, never assume anything. Ensure your eye doctor evaluates your eye. There is no fixed number of safe hours for your contact lens. However, eye doctors recommend you wear your contact lens for 8-10 hrs per day. If you can wear contacts for less than such hours, do so by all means.

Some of the concerns and risks with contact lenses include:

  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
  • Blurry Vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Unexplained eye discomfort or pain
  • Excess tearing or other discharge
  • Unusual eye redness
  • Swellings and pains
  • Itching and burning

Overview of Contact Lens Use

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Not the entirety of people who wear glasses want to wear contacts. However, contacts are now the new normal with great risks.

If you wear contact lenses, you should know there are different types. With the most common being soft contact lenses, there are also many others.

  1. Soft Contact Lenses: These are very fragile and soft lenses made of flexible plastics. They are very comfortable, and you can adjust quickly to them. These tissues are very delicate. They can easily tear or drip. These soft contact lenses come in various options, including:
  • Daily Wear: These lenses must be worn during the day and removed at night.
  • Daily Disposables: You can only wear these lenses once and discard them. 
  • Extended Wear: You wear these contacts for an extended period say a week or even 30 days. However, your eye doctor must guide this extension, considering factors like the specific type of lens. 

2. Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses: These lenses are suitable for specific eye conditions and are made of silicon polymers. These lenses may need an adjustment period for comfort. 

3. Hybrid Contact Lenses: These lenses combine the features of both soft and RGP lenses. The rigid part works for clearer vision, while the soft part is for comfort. 

4. Toric Contacts: These lenses are for certain eye conditions like correcting astigmatism. These toric lenses have two powers – one for correcting astigmatism and the other for clear vision. 

5. Multifocal/Bifocal Contact Lenses: If you have presbyopia, multifocal lenses are for you. They contain multiple prescription powers that help correct your vision at different levels and distances. 

6. Cosmetic Contact Lenses: These change the colour of your eyes. You can get them with or without a prescription, and available in different colours and designs. 

Factors Contributing to Vision Problems

Several factors contribute to your vision problems. The most common reasons for contact lens problems are:

  • Extended wear and wearing them overnight
  • Not taking care of them properly

Extended Wear and Overnight Use

Wearing a reusable contact lens can lead to eye infection and thereby cause sight loss. Research notes that reusing your contacts, or wearing them overnight shows an increased risk of acanthamoeba keratitis compared to those who wore daily disposable lenses. Acanthamoeba keratitis is a corneal infection with rare cases leading to corneal transplant. When left untreated, it can lead to blindness.

Improper Lens Care and Hygiene

Bad eye hygiene poses a risk to your eye health such as eye irritation, serious eye infections, and cornea damage. Neglecting to clean your lenses and using expired instead of a fresh solution can lead to bacterial buildup, potentially causing blindness. You must follow your eye care professional directives in cleaning your lenses to maintain a healthy eye.

Prevention and Care Tips

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  • You can prevent acanthamoeba keratitis by ensuring your contact lens storage case always has a fresh solution. Although acanthamoeba keratitis is rare, it is responsible for most sight loss among contact lens wearers. 
  • Avoid overusing your contact lenses. Don’t sleep in them. Dr. Habberman from NYU Langone Health advises patients to avoid swimming, sleeping, and showering. Waters cause eye infections, especially corneal ulcers, and untreated can lead to sight loss. Microorganisms in tap water and swimming pools cause keratitis infections
  • You can ask your eye doctor to recommend solutions to use.
  • Wear contact lenses under the supervision of your eye care professional.
  • Clean your contact lenses properly to reduce the risk of infection.
  • During eye irritation, remove your contact lenses.

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When to Seek Medical Attention

To seek medical attention, recognize the signs and call/visit your eye care professional.

Recognizing Signs of Eye Complications

Be vigilant for symptoms like continuous redness, pain, or sudden vision changes. These symptoms can signal corneal infection or even blindness when unhandled.

Consulting an Eye Care Professional

Regular check-ups are essential, especially in contact lens use. Visit your eye care professional for any unusual symptoms. With timely intervention, you mitigate risks.

Final Thoughts of Eye Contacts

Contact lenses offer convenience and clear vision and are better than wearing glasses. However, ensure proper care to avoid risk factors like getting blind or complications like an infection or corneal ulcers. You must clean your lenses and store them in a clean lens case. Never undermine professional advice to ensure a safe and comfortable contact lens use. If not, refractive surgery can happen, especially when the shape of the cornea is involved.