While the advantages of contact lenses far outweigh the disadvantages, the most effective way to address possible complications is to prevent them from occurring. With many potential benefits, it’s easy to see why many patients with imperfect but correctable vision choose to use contact lenses.
To ensure they get the most out of their contact lens-wearing experience, patients need to practice healthy habits. It’s important to explain the risks associated with wearing contacts to them and make sure they know how to properly use them and how to reduce complications.
GOOD OXYGEN SUPPLY IS CRITICAL TO KEEP EYES HEALTHY
One of the risks associated with wearing contact lenses is the decrease in the amount of oxygen reaching the surface of the eye. Because the lenses reach across the cornea, if worn for too long they can restrict the amount of oxygen flowing to the eye. This can lead to the appearance of red veins growing in the cornea as the eye tries to access oxygen, and can result in the warping of the cornea and impaired vision if the eye continues to be starved of oxygen. To avoid this, patients should choose soft or silicone hydrogel lenses as these transmit more oxygen than the conventional soft contact lens materials.
DIMINISHED CORNEAL REFLEX
“Using contact lenses may cause a diminished corneal reflex in the eye,” warned the InSight Vision Centre. “Corneal reflex is a protective mechanism of the eye where the brain signals the eyelids to close to protect the eyes whenever the slightest amount of pressure is applied to the cornea.” When patients use contact lenses constantly, the body is taught to ignore the natural corneal reflex. “This may dull the eye’s response to the corneal reflex, which could lead to the eye being damaged if you can’t close your eyes quick enough in case of danger. They recommended patients use glasses when at home to ensure that corneal reflex isn’t diminished too much by constant use.
CONTACT LENS INFECTIONS
Keratitis is the most common eye infection from wearing contact lenses, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). “It is when the cornea becomes infected. In some cases, it can scar the cornea, affecting your vision.” The risk of infection for patients who use contact lenses is directly linked to improper care and use of the lens. Wearing lenses for an extended period, sleeping in contact lenses, improperly cleaning and disinfecting lenses, and not maintaining the cleanliness of the contact case may lead to infections, AAO advised. If a patient experiences a contact lens infection, he or she might complain of visual changes such as blurry vision, light sensitivity, unusual redness, pain, tearing, or discharge from the eye. In the event that a patient experiences these symptoms, the contact lenses should immediately be removed to prevent further complications.
A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea. According to NeoVision Eye Centre (NEC), it is common for contact lens wearers to develop bacterial corneal ulcers from overwearing their contact lenses, especially for those who use extended wear contacts. Furthermore, contact lenses put users at increased risk for corneal ulcers when the lenses scrape the surface of the cornea, making it more susceptible to infection. “Symptoms of corneal ulcers include redness, severe pain, discharge, blurred vision, and a white spot on your cornea. Corneal ulcers are a serious issue that should be treated immediately,” warned NEC. “If left untreated, a corneal ulcer could lead to serious permanent damage for your vision.”
Corneal abrasion is one of the most common risks of wearing contact lenses. Patients will experience superficial lesions to the cornea as a result of the lens being worn very tightly. Other risks of wearing contact lenses include dry eyes, red eye, conjunctivitis, ptosis, allergy, and corneal infiltrates.
Fortunately, according to the American Optometric Association, complications that can threaten vision and persist after contact lens removal are rare. “When accompanied by reasonable prescribed wear schedules, adequate professional supervision, and patient compliance with both the principles of good personal hygiene and the published recommendations of contact lens and solution manufacturers, the prescription of contact lenses with adequate oxygen permeability and transmissibility (Dk/t) should result in safe and effective contact lens wear.