The Problems Of Contact Lenses Lie With Patients

The CDC note that 99% of lens wearers are problematic.

A study was recently released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which revealed something many eye doctors expected. The findings were that the risks associated with contact lenses and the costs that come along with eye-related infections may be actually down to the contact lens wears themselves. In other words, are people giving themselves issues by wearing the lenses? This is a question that many people in the industry have raised.

The Ninety Nine Percent

The people behind the study found that of those studied, more than 99% of them were non compliant when trying on contact lenses. To many doctors, and those in the industry, this news came as no surprise, based on what they have to deal with on a daily basis. It is found that most doctors have to deal with noncompliant behaviors from their patients. This is the reason that doctors need to ask certain questions during the eye exams. Here are some of the most important questions to ask patients:

  • Do you fall asleep with your lenses on?
  • How often do you change the lens care case?
  • What’s the process you use to clean your case?
  • How do you care for your contact lenses?
  • How often do change your lenses?

It is very important to your patients that you have a number of questions that each patient is asked when they visit.

Getting the correct answers to the questions above will let you check the contact lens hygiene, and cover the problems that come from not following the guidelines. If people are to avoid eye infections then you need to tell them a number of times. Do not worry about repeating yourself, as it is better than having a patient with red eye.

The CDC study does not separate patients based on the place they bought their lenses. While it shows that 21% bought from the internet, it does not show if rates of infection were higher in this group. This would be a good finding to have as it would clarify some things. This would be expected as most people buy online to save money on eye exams.

The Cost Of Poor Hygiene

The study showed that over 1 million people visit a doctor based on something related to contact lens issues. This amounts to over $170 million dollars a year. But the study also fails to show how the statistics fall between lens related issues and non contact lens related issues. There is also the cost that comes from hours wasted at work, based on visiting an eye doctor. This is not covered in the study.

The study predicts that roughly 41 million contact wearers are 18 years old or older. Based on this, if the keratitis visits were contact lens-related, then 2.5% of all lens wearers have some form of keratitis issue. This is a very worrying figure and it shows that people are not taking the guidelines that are given seriously. They are putting their sight in danger by doing this. However the majority of these issues is of a minor nature, and the people do not have any long term vision issues. If they do need to take time off work, then they are able to return quickly. There is another issue that is not covered in the article, though: it doesn’t say how many people experience red eye and just deal with them.

The survey also found that not following the guidelines on when to replace contact lenses was something that most people flout. This is not a major surprise to most eye doctors. Those who take a nap or fall asleep with their lenses is also at the top of the list. Another major issue is water exposure. There are lots of people who wear their lenses while they are swimming, and just rinse their lenses when they leave the pool. Other people simply don’t replace their cases as often as they should.

The Guidelines Keep People Safe

The study is very important for eye doctors as it shows that they need to keep educating their patients until the message is taken seriously. The more encouragement that is given to patients, the better the results will be in the future.

As such, the conclusion to draw is that it’s not the contact lenses that are dangerous, it is the people who fail to follow the guidelines.


  1. Cope JR, Collier SA, Rao MM, et al. Contact Lens Wearer Demographics and Risk Behaviors for Contact Lens-Related Eye Infections—United States, 2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2015 Aug 21. Available at:
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