Health

New study shows reusable contact lenses could cause blindness

Don’t be blind to the risks of contacts!

Wearing reusable contact lenses can lead to a rare infection that causes vision loss, according to new eye-opening research.

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

Researchers from the University College of London found that reusing lenses and wearing lenses at night or in the shower increases the risk of developing the condition known as acanthamoeba keratitis.

“In recent years we have seen an increase in 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 said. Professor John Dart, to Medical News.

During the study, researchers recruited more than 200 patients from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, including 83 people with corneal infections, and compared them with 122 participants who came to clinics with other conditions.

Researchers from the University College of London found that reusing lenses and wearing them at night or in the shower increases the risk of getting acanthamoeba keratitis.
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They found that people who wore reusable soft contact lenses were 3.8 times more likely to develop acanthamoeba keratitis, compared to those who wore daily contact lenses.

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The researchers concluded that an estimated 30-62% of eye infections in the UK could be prevented if people switched from reusable to daily disposable contact lenses.

Overall, acanthamoeba keratitis — which causes the eye to become painful and inflamed — accounts for about half of contact lens users who develop vision loss, researchers said.

Researchers said contact lens use is the No. 1 cause of corneal infection in patients with otherwise healthy eyes in countries in the Northern Hemisphere.

A photo of someone holding a socket and glasses.
According to the new study, 30-62% of eye infections in the UK could be prevented if people switched from reusable to daily contact lenses.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The condition can be prevented by making sure that your contact lens storage box is filled with a new solution every time you open it and that you don’t sleep in your contact lenses, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

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Although acanthamoeba keratitis is rare, it accounts for about half of contact lens users who develop vision loss after a corneal infection.

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

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