As one of the alternatives for improving your vision – aside from wearing glasses – these seemingly ordinary pieces of plastic may be causing severe damage to your eye health.
Here are seven big risks that come with wearing contact lenses.
1. Greater Risk of Eye Infections
Keratitis, the most common infection that can result from wearing contact lenses, is caused by dust, bacteria, viruses, and in rare cases, eye parasites. If there are scratches on your contact lenses, they can scrape the outer surface of your cornea, making it easier for bacteria to get in and cause an infection. These scratches on your cornea are also known as corneal abrasion. Keratitis affects the cornea and causes pain, redness, blurred vision, discharge, and/or watery or irritated eyes.
2. Vision Loss and Blindness
When eye infections or corneal ulcers from contact lenses are left untreated, they can cause vision impairment and permanent blindness. This is especially true for bacterial keratitis, which can damage the structure and shape of the cornea.
3. Corneal Scarring
If you’re allergic to the material used to make the contact lenses (plastic or silicone), or keep contact lenses in for too long, it can cause corneal inflammation and injury, which can lead to scarring and permanent damage to your vision (this is also extraordinarily painful, so corneal scarring is something you want to prevent at all costs).
4. Reduced Corneal Reflex (Which Protects Your Eye from Outside Dangers)
Blinking is probably not something you pay much attention to during the day, since it’s an involuntary movement – but it’s a movement that’s crucial to keeping your eyes and vision healthy. Blinking is a protective mechanism that helps keep outside irritants from damaging your eyes, such as chemicals in the environment, dust, bacteria, insects, and even physical contact. Just imagine if someone were about to poke your eye, and your body didn’t “get the message” to close your eyelids?
Believe it or not, regularly wearing contact lenses can interfere with your blinking reflexes by reducing your corneal sensitivity. Blinking also helps keep your eyes from drying out by producing tears. When your corneal reflexes are reduced and you’re not blinking as frequently, you can end up with dry eye syndrome – a condition that’s characterized by itching, redness, and pus.
5. Dry Eye Syndrome
Itchy, irritated, dry, red eyes are the most common complaints when wearing contact lenses, and these symptoms usually indicate dry eye syndrome. It commonly happens when you first adjust to wearing contacts, when your contacts dry out as you’re wearing them, or wear contacts that don’t fit you properly (again, another caution with purchasing non-prescription cosmetic contacts).
As mentioned above, contact lenses can reduce the amount of tears your eyes produce, which act as a “moisturizer.” Soft contact lenses can actually absorb these tears, drying your eyes out even further. Studies done on dry eye syndrome and contact lenses show that dry eye syndrome affects both short- and long-term soft contact lens wearers. Although it’s less common, dry eyes can also cause corneal scarring.
6. Corneal Ulcers
Eye infections caused by contact lenses can lead to corneal ulcers, which are painful, open sores on the outer layer of the cornea.
Keeping your contact lenses in for too long is the most common cause of corneal ulcers, and research suggests that those who wear extended wear contact lenses are 10 times more likely to end up with corneal ulcers.
This post originally appeared on Paleo Hacks.