Medical Devices

Contact Lens Risks

Wearing contact lenses puts you at risk of several serious conditions including eye infections and corneal ulcers. These conditions can develop very quickly and can be very serious. In rare cases, these conditions can cause blindness.

You can not determine the seriousness of a problem that develops when you are wearing contact lenses. You have to get help from an eye care professional to determine your problem.

If you experience any symptoms of eye irritation or infection,

  • remove your lenses immediately and do not put them back in your eyes.
  • contact your eye care professional right way.
  • don't throw away your lenses. Store them in your case and take them to your eye care professional. He or she may want to use them to determine the cause of your symptoms.
  • report serious eye problems associated with your lenses to the FDA’s MedWatch reporting program.
Symptoms of Eye Irritation or Infection
  • discomfort
  • excess tearing or other discharge
  • unusual sensitivity to light
  • itching, burning, or gritty feelings
  • unusual redness
  • blurred vision
  • swelling
  • pain
Serious Hazards of Contact Lenses

Symptoms of eye irritation can indicate a more serious condition. Some of the possible serious hazards of wearing contact lenses are corneal ulcers, eye infections, and even blindness.

Corneal ulcers are open sores in the outer layer of the cornea. They are usually caused by infections. To reduce your chances of infection, you should:

  • Rub and rinse your contact lenses as directed by your eye care professional.
  • Clean and disinfect your lenses properly according to the labeling instructions.
  • Do not “top-off” the solutions in your case. Always discard all of the left over contact lens solution after each use. Never reuse any lens solution.
  • Do not expose your contact lenses to any water: tap, bottled, distilled, lake or ocean water. Never use non-sterile water (distilled water, tap water or any homemade saline solution). Tap and distilled water have been associated with Acanthamoeba keratitis, a corneal infection that is resistant to treatment and cure.
  • Remove your contact lenses before swimming. There is a risk of eye infection from bacteria in swimming pool water, hot tubs, lakes and the ocean
  • Replace your contact lens storage case every 3 months.
Other Risks of Contact Lenses

Other risks of contact lenses include

  • pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • corneal abrasions
  • eye irritation

For more information about the risks associated with contact lenses, go to:

Page Last Updated: 04/23/2014
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