Healthy eyes result from healthy contact lens wear

It is summertime – time for travel, vacations, and fun in the sun! It is also the time of year that we may be out of our daily routines. That makes it the perfect time to review tips for healthy contact lens wear.

Over 30 million people in the US wear contact lenses [1]. (REF) and between 40%-90% of contact lens wearers do not properly follow the care instructions for their contact lenses [2]. Although contact lenses are comfortable, provide good vision and are usually safe, contact lenses do not come without risks – particularly if they are not cared for properly.

Healthy contact lens wear is critically important to prevent microbial keratitis. Almost one million visits for microbial keratitis or contact lens complications occur annually and the single greatest risk factor for microbial keratitis is contact lens wear [3]. Other risk factors include the hygiene routine, contact lens handling, disinfecting solution, and the storage case. [4]

Because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies contact lenses as medical devices, only an eye doctor should prescribe them. Contact lenses are medical devices that may be worn to correct vision, as well as for cosmetic or therapeutic reasons. In the US, all contact lenses, even ones used purely for cosmetic use, require a prescription.

Contact Lens Health Week

The fourth consecutive Contact Lens Health Week is August 21-25, 2017 [5]. The goal of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to develop strategies to minimize the complications associated with contact lens wear. There are over 30 million contact lens wearers in the US at risk for sight threatening complications such as ulcerative keratitis. Our role as doctors is to educate patients and the community about the risks of contact lens wear to help the CDC’s goal to minimize contact lens complications and the overall burden in this country.

The CDC has developed a robust campaign for healthy and safe contact lens wear in collaboration with the American Academy of Optometry, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Optometric Association, Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists (CLAO), Contact Lens Society of America, National Academy of Opticianry (NAO) and Contact Lens Institute (CLI).

In 2017, the focus is on encouraging youth to start healthy habits early in their contact lens wearing experience. The CDC’s catchphrase is, Remember: Healthy Habits = Healthy Eyes.

The messaging includes

  1. Stressing the importance of healthy contact lens hygiene habits.
  2. Proper use, care, and storage of contact lenses and accoutrements.
  3. The importance of regular visits to an eye care provider.

The Contact Lens Health Week targets teens and young adults and provides messages and materials suitable for all contact lens wearers. As eye care providers, we are the essential partners to share the messages and materials for Contact Lens Health Week.

The CDC has developed a promotional toolkit with excellent resources. Please share these resources widely to promote healthy contact lens wear. For more information on Contact Lens Health Week, please visit www.cdc.gov/contactlenses.

Although Contact Lens Health Week is one week during the year, this information can be utilized all year long. Please share this information extensively to promote healthy and safe contact lens wear.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/fast-facts.html
  2. Bui TH, Cavanagh HD, Robertson DM. Patient compliance during contact lens wear: perceptions, awareness, and behavior. Eye Contact Lens. 2010;36(6):334-9
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p1113-eye-infections.html
  4. Sauer A, Meyer N, Bourcier T. Risk Factors for Contact Lens-Related Microbial Keratitis: A Case-Control Multicenter Study. Eye Contact Lens. 2016 May;42(3):158-62. doi: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000180.   
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/contact-lens-health-week.html