By Eileen Woo, RN, BSN
(Article reprinted from November Nursing2009, Volume 39, Issue 11)
A PATIENT VISITED an eye care professional complaining of pain, redness, foreign body sensation, tearing, and photophobia in his left eye. The patient, who’d been wearing daily disposable soft contact lenses for 7 days and 6 nights, was diagnosed with a corneal ulcer and conjunctivitis.
What went wrong?
The FDA has received several reports of corneal ulcers, keratitis, and other eye infections associated with using daily disposable contact lenses for longer than the period recommended.
Ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals believe the reported problems are caused by contact lens wearers’ poor hygiene and failure to follow directions when using and caring for these types of lenses. Reports of consumers wearing daily disposable contact lenses for 6 or 7 days instead of 1 day are of particular concern. Eye problems, including corneal ulcers, can develop rapidly and lead to loss of vision.
Patients with eye infections secondary to contact lens wear may require treatment with antibiotics. Some infections have led to serious injuries such as corneal ulcers that required corneal transplants.
What precautions can you take?
Help wearers of disposable soft contact lenses reduce the risk of eye infection and other problems by teaching them to follow these guidelines:
- Read the labeling on the use and care of contact lenses and strictly follow the directions.
- To avoid contamination, before and after handling contact lenses, wash your hands with mild soap that doesn’t contain cold cream, lotion, or oily cosmetics. Then rinse your hands well and dry them with a lint-free towel.1
- Keep contact lenses clean at all times by using the recommended contact lens solutions as directed. Don’t use sterile water or nonsterile solutions including homemade solutions, distilled water, or water from the tap, a bottle, the ocean, pool, or lake. Don’t use your saliva to wet your lenses.2
- Be careful with contact lens solution. Don’t transfer it into another container because this can cause contamination. Don’t let the tip of the bottle touch anything and keep the bottle tightly closed when you’re not using it.2
- Examine each contact lens before inserting it to make sure it’s not damaged. Discard any damaged lenses.
- Don’t wear contact lenses longer than the period recommended.
- Immediately remove your lenses and seek medical care for vision changes, eye discomfort, redness, excessive tearing, photophobia, and foreign body sensations.
For more information, see Resources below; the websites provide links to other articles and a video. Then take simple steps to help reduce your patient’s risk of serious eye infections and injuries from contact lenses.
- Bausch & Lomb. Soflens daily disposable (hilafilcon B). Patient information booklet.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. eyeSmart. Caring for contact lenses.
Although you need to support your healthcare facility’s adverse event-reporting policy, you may voluntarily report a medical device that doesn’t perform as intended by contacting MedWatch at 1-800-FDA-1088 (fax: 1-800-FDA-0178) or online.
Diane Dwyer, RN, BSN, who coordinates Device Safety, is a nurse consultant at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the FDA in
Silver Spring, Md.
Eileen Woo is a nurse consultant for ophthalmic and surgical stapler and suture devices at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health in Silver Spring, Md.