Reusable Contact Lenses Can Cause Blindness, Study Confirms

Don’t turn a blind eye to the risks of contact lenses!

New eye-opening research suggests that wearing reusable contacts could lead to a rare infection that causes blindness.

People who wear multi-use lenses are nearly four times more likely to develop a corneal infection that causes blindness than people who use disposables, according to research published in the journal Ophthalmology.

Scientists at the University College of London found that wearing the disposable lenses overnight also increased risks of condition, known as acanthamoeba keratitis.

“In recent years we have seen an increase of acanthamoeba keratitis in the UK and Europe, and while the infection is still rare, it is preventable and warrants a public health response,” the study’s lead author, Professor John Dart, said recently.

Reusable contact lenses often lead to eye problems in developed nations, including infection and blindness

Over the course of the study, researchers recruited more than 200 patients from the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. That number included 83 people with corneal infections, and compared them to 122 participants who came to clinics with other eye conditions.

The group that wore soft, reusable contact lenses were 3.8 times as likely to develop an infection as those who did not. The London researchers also interestingly concluded that somewhere between 30-62% of eye infections in the UK could be avoided by switching to daily contacts. Apparently contact lens use is the primary cause of corneal infection in patients with otherwise healthy eyes in developed countries.

The only way to lessen the risk of infection with multi-use lenses is to ensure that fresh solution is in the case each time, and to never sleep in them. Though acanthamoeba keratitis is rare, it is a nasty infection that nobody wants to mess with.

“Contact lenses are generally very safe but are associated with a small risk,” Dart said. “Given that an estimated 300 million people across the globe wear contact lenses, it is important that people know how to minimize their risks for developing keratitis.”

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