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Soft conact lenses - are they safe?. Category: Health

I have a very bad eyesight and I don't look good in glasses. I want to switch to contact lenses, but there is a lot of talk about contact lenes causing eye infection. Are soft contact lenses safe?

This is a very common question. Many people would like to switch to contac lenses, but they are afraid that this can cause diseases such as keratitis (inflammation of the cornea) Lets look at the dangers wearing contact lenses might present and how you can avoid them.

There are two main lens types - RGP (rigid gas permeable lenses) and soft contact leses. Here we will talk about soft contact lenses, since they are the most popular type.

Contact lenses features that can put you at risk of keratitis

The quality of your conact lenses, how much oxygen they let through to your eyes and how high is the percentage of water in the lens should all be considered. It is important to select lenses made from high quality polymer with a high (more than 50%) water content. Also the lenses should "breathe" - in other words, they should let enough oxygen through. A good choice would be Acuvue Advance lenses or any of the Focus contacts. Also see more suggestions on healthy contact lenses.

Another consideration is the thickness of the lens. The more corrective power your eyes require, the thicker the lens is. A thick lens presents a higher risk of infection. If your eyesight is very bad, RGP lenses might be a better choice for you, instead of soft contact lenses.

Third, having your lens properly fitted is especially important. The lens shouldn't be too tight across the surface of your eye. There should be space for tears between the lens and your eye. Only an experienced eye doctor can fit your lenses properly. You should never buy contac lenses without a prescription, on the assumption that they will fit you. Most likely they won't, and you can do irreparable damage to your eyes.

Another problem is exposure to pollution, smoke, dust or pollen. Lenses tend to collect even the smallest particles from the air. This causes discomfort and, quite often, inflammation of the cornea. If you feel that there is something stuck between your eye and the lens, take your lens off immediately and wash both the lens and your eye. See additional eye health suggestions.

Sleeping in your contact lenses isn't recommended. Contact lens manufacturers realize that people would very much like to have a lens that they can wear continuously for several days. They put a lot of research into producing such lenses: for example, Focus Night and Day is said to be safe for 30 days of continuous wear, and Acuvue is designed to be worn for a week.

However, from your health point of view it is better to be safe than sorry; don't sleep in your lenses. Of course, if you live in the mountains where the air is crystal clear, wearing your lenses for several days might be all right. But most of us live in polluted cities and travel a couple hours a day through peak hour traffic. Just imagine all that dust collecting between the delicate surface of your eye and a lens for a week, or a month It's not a pleasant thought, is it?

Early symptoms of keratitis are blurry vision (while wearing lenses) and discomfort when exposed to light. If you notice these signs, don't wear your lenses and see a doctor.

After reading this article you probably think that soft contact lenses are dangerous and you are better off with your old glasses. Please don't. Modern brand-name contact lenses are designed to minimize the risks and, if they are properly fitted, worn according to the schedule and properly cared for, they are quite safe. The most important thing is to follow the advice given above and see your eye doctor immediately, if you start to feel discomfort.

About the author: Tanya Turner is a contact lens expert and a founder of http://www.1-contact-lenses-consumer-guide.com, where you can find unbiased information about eye health and all types of contact lenses with reviews and pictures


Readers' comments
Hi Tanya, I have been wearing my contacts (soft lenses) for about a year and lately they have been giving me alot of trouble. Is it dangerous to wear contacts say a month longer than when they are supposed to be thrown away. I was wearing my contacts still because i havent gotten the chance to buy new ones. This morning i woke up and my eyes were blurry and the bottom part of my eye was all red. I am picking up my new contacts tonight but why did this blurryness and redness occur out of nowhere?
-by Sydney
you convinced me not to get contacts with so many ifs
-by Jay
I've been wearing contacts forever, first hard, then semi hard, and now soft for al least the last 10 years. No problems, but you really must keep the lenses clean, and even when putting them in solution every night, I still believe that weekly the lenses need to be cleaned with something like Opti clean II, then placed in the other solutions. The lenses I now wear are accu view advanced, and are just great, but always looking for something new and improved. You must persevere when first starting out, and if you really want to wear lenses, then DO SO.
-by Janice
I have been wearing lenses for over 6 years and I'm afraid to do laser eye surgery so I'm stuck with contacts forever. My problem is that in my country we don't get much variety of contact lenses, and you don't find the brands that the rest of you have mentioned, what can I do?
-by Allison- Malta Europe
Allison: you can search, for example, 'contact lenses international shipping' (or replacing 'international' for 'worldwide' and 'shipping' for 'delivery'), etc, and you'll find websites that sell to any part of the world. Sadly, that makes it more expensive.
-by Jim
hi i have alot of question about contac lenes i was thinking to switch to lenes if my parents allow. so then i dont no how lenses gonna work does it hurt when it put in eyes? i was scare something happen to my eyes plz help me
-by Rachel
I have contact lenses...I have taken care to clean them properly, they feel comfortable and I have had no deterioration in my sight..I purchased them through CouponAlbum.com....
-by Hayward
i want to wear contact lenses but im only 14 and i do not wear glasses i uster though please help
-by sarah
hi i have worn contacts for like 3 weeks now and my eyes feel alright and everything but im scared that i might accdently get my contacts dirty and put them in my eye if i do will i be infected right away ? can u help me please
-by Ali
I wear glasses only when I drive, because I feel weird to where them to work, since no one has ever seen me in glasses. But my eyes hurt staring at the computer all day. I want to wear contacts, but I'm worried that they can damage my eyes. I dont want my vision to get worse, but I don't really like wearing glasses, not only cause I don't like how I look in them, but because it feels weird having something on my face. I hardly used to wear sunglasses because of that same reason. What can I do?
-by Carmen
I've worn hard contacts, then gas permeable contacts for years and have now switched to soft, which I love. My question is this: If I have a prescription and have had recent eye appointments, is there any reason not to get contacts from my optometrist but to order them online instead with my prescription?
-by Kathryn
I have been wearing contac lenses for about 6 months now and i have tried many souletions, but no mater what soulloution I use, my eyes are always itchy. I think I might go back to earing glasses.....
-by Michael Gilbert
are color contacts safe?
-by Sarah
Would it be alright to wear the same pair of contacs, for a little while longer than I am suppose too. Say three days more?
-by Barthalemew
Ive had contact lenses for a yr now and not 1 problem has occured thery are perfectly safe if u follow all the hygiene rules i reccomend specsavers as they do cheap lenses n thorough checks every 3 months if u want 2 wear contacts GO FOR IT!!! its nice 2 have the all round vision and i was recently told tht my vision has gotten a bit better since wearing them!!!!
-by David
i WANT CONTACTS REALLY BAD BUT MY PARENTS ARE SCARE SOMETHING WILL HAPPEN TO MI EYES ARE THEY DANGEROUS???? i REALLY WANT SOME BUT SUPPOSEBLY THEY COST TO MUCH
-by ELiZABETH
every time i wear contact lenses , i feel some sort of irritation in my left eye. right is perfect with the lenses. My left eye is a bit bigger than the right eye. difference can be spotted only if one looks very carefully and closely. Any solution to my problem. Does the lens size matter???? Shud i see a doctor?
-by aviator
ive been wearing contacts for about 4 years. and yes i feel that ive become more sensitive to light and yes there is an aura around street lights at night and one of my eyes turns red especially if i didnt sleep well the night before....apart from that,,,it seems that the more i sleep (lets say 8 hours a day) those symptoms tend to go away...so i not sure if is it because i lack sleep or if it is because of some eye condition!! i guess i should get my eyes checked anyway!
-by meemee
can you find what size contacts you need without a eye doctor? can you do it your self?
-by charlie
Contacts are very safe if you follow basci care instructions. Replacing your lenses and case on schedule is critical. Most lenses are either 14 or 30 day lenses. Contact lens cases must be replaced every 30 days. Cases are hotbeds for infection and there is no way to stop the fungus. Replacing cases every 30 days is your best defense. My family uses a contact lens & case timer by LensAlert. It is great and we nver forget when to replace our lenses and case!
-by John
i got my contacts 5 days ago and so far doing well in terms of putting them on and taking them off...what i want to know is if there are any threats that contacts can cause my eyes in the future????
-by cynthia
Contact lenses are VERY I repeat VERY dangerous to your eyes! Many people have lost their vision as their corneas swelled up to the size of a marble. I am an optometrist and do NOT recommend these to anyone. Please spread the message. It will save many people from a horrible fate. Please
-by Dr. Murali
i have been wearing contact lenses(semi soft) for about 3 weeks,but still it hurts me,what can i do?can u plz help me?
-by loka


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