Common eye infections that people with contact lenses can face
A pair of contact lenses sure is a massive relief over eyeglasses. You get to move around without having to care about a frame resting on your face, physical activities are easier, you do not have to deal with fogging of glasses, and of course, you get to see better. All in all, contact lenses are a great alternative to inconvenient eyeglasses.
No matter how convenient and handy contact lenses are, they come with a set of limitations. You cannot keep them on all the time. They are a bit expensive when compared to eyeglasses. Also, if you are not careful enough with its cleaning and do not follow healthy habits, you may be at a risk of catching an eye infection.
Keratitis (also known as Corneal infection or Corneal ulcer) is the most common eye infection caused by contact lenses that affects the Cornea. Cornea is the transparent dome that covers the Pupil and Iris. The infection could lead to discomfort and irritation in eyes and if left untreated, could cause vision loss. There are a bunch of other contact-lens related issues that could affect the eyes based on the type and severity of the infection.
What causes contact lenses-related infections in the eyes
- Not cleaning or maintaining the contact lenses and the lens case properly.
- Topping up the contact lens solution over the old solution in the lens case.
- Reusing old lens solutions to store contact lenses.
- Sleeping with contact lenses on.
- Having contact lenses on for longer duration per day than suggested.
- Using contact lenses while swimming in water in places like community swimming pool, lakes, etc.
- Not cleaning your hands before applying contact lenses to your eyes.
Contact lens infections: Symptoms
Here are some common symptoms that you may experience if you are affected by an eye-infection caused by contact lenses:
- Itching or Burning sensation in the eye
- Vision is blurred
- Redness in the eye
- Pain or swelling in the eye
- Sensitivity to light has increased
- Excessive tear discharge
- Feels like there’s a foreign object in the eye
With any of these symptoms surfacing during the use of contact lenses, the patient should immediately see their ophthalmologist. Immediate treatment is highly recommended for such issues; a delay could cause harm to the affected eye(s).
Types of contact-lens infection or Keratitis:
Here are the types of microbial infections that contact lenses could cause in human eyes.
- Bacterial Keratitis
- Fungal Keratitis
- Parasitic/Amebic Keratitis
- Viral Keratitis / Herpes Keratitis
Bacterial Keratitis in contact lens users is usually caused by Pseudomonas Aeruginosa (a type of bacteria). It could happen because of prolonged usage of the lenses or contamination of contact lens solution.
This type of corneal infection is caused by contact with fungus, like: Candida, Fusarium, or Aspergillus. These fungi, especially Fusarium, are commonly related to plants, soil, or water.
Exposure to these materials on your hands and touching your eyes or lenses without cleaning your hands properly could result in fungal corneal infection.
This is a rare but serious contact-lenses related eye infection. A single celled organism known as Acanthamoeba is the reason behind such infections. This organism is commonly present in water bodies like oceans and lakes. It could also be found in swimming pools, tap water and bath tubs.
Viral Keratitis / Herpes Keratitis
HSV or Herpes Simplex Virus can infect the eyes of those wearing contact lenses. Touching an infected area, then touching the eyes or contact lenses could easily transmit the virus to the eyes. It doesn’t only infect the cornea, but could also infect the eyelids or conjunctiva.
While you can minimize the chance of getting your eyes infected due to contact lenses, there’s always a risk. Of course, you can be extra careful, but could you imagine the sense of freedom you would get if you do not have to wear contact lenses or eyeglasses at all?