Just like the recommended glasses, contact lenses are designed to aid your vision if you have issues with your eyes.
According to Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr. Kunle Oluwaniyi, contact lenses are a safe and effective form of vision correction, but that is only achievable when they are worn and handled as prescribed by physician.
He notes that some people treat contact lenses like their natural eyes by sleeping in them or by wearing them beyond their recommended use.
He says that eye glasses have dates after which a user must return to the physician to be tested and, where necessary, have them changed as necessary.
“The same goes for contact lenses. If you use a pair, you must have been told by your eye specialist the due date after which it becomes unsafe to wear them. Many people ignore this; as they do many other health warnings their doctors give them,” Oluwaniyi enthuses.
Risks of misuse
Experts warn that contact lenses can pose serious risks to the eyes when used wrongly. One of these risks is the probability of contact lens-related corneal infection.
“Corneal eye infection can come by way of ulcers or keratitis, which is the inflammation of the cornea that can lead to irreversible eye damage if not handled well enough.
Corneal eye infection can lead to central corneal scar, a decrease in vision, and the need to undergo corneal transplant,” Oluwaniyi explains.
He notes that in Nigeria, we don’t have the culture of donating body organs after death or, even in cases where a living person can donate a body part such as a kidney.
“This being the case, it is the responsibility of anyone to follow doctor’s directives in all matters of personal health, and also in cases of dependent children or senior adults that we care for,” he warns.
Common contact lens abuses
Oluwaniyi laments that many contact lens users usually wear them beyond the approved period, such as taking them off when retiring for the day, for instance.
“No one should sleep with their contact lenses on. Whether you just want to take a nap or your night sleep, you must take them out!
“It is an absolute no-no to take a nap while wearing your contact lenses; just as it is unthinkable to have them on overnight while sleeping.
“Those who engage in these habits risk exposure to microbial keratitis — that is the infection of the eyes’ transparent outer covering, which can be caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses or amoeba,” the doctor warns.
He adds that some people wear their contact lenses while having their bath; while some go swimming while wearing their contact lenses. “This is unthinkable, considering that you won’t have your prescription glasses on while swimming. If this is true of glasses, why wear a pair of contact lenses for swimming?” he asks rhetorically.
He says there are goggles that are designed strictly for swimming, and those should be worn for the exercise while the contact lenses are taken off before jumping into the water. He explains:
“The problem is, when contact lenses are exposed to water, the microorganisms living in water can be transferred to the eye by the time the user puts them on, hence the need to heed this warning,” the physician says.
He adds that contact lenses must never be stored in water, nor should they be used beyond their expiration dates.
He also says that tap or distilled water must never be used to clean contact lenses.