CDC: Improper contact use leads to millions of infections - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

CDC: Improper contact use leads to millions of infections

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Do you properly care for your contacts? If not, you could become one of millions at the doctor or emergency room this year according to a new report from the CDC. 

The report states nearly one million Americans visited a health care professional for an eye infection in 2010. In addition 58,000 went to the emergency room. The reason: simply not washing your contacts correctly, sleeping in them, or wearing them past the date recommended. In short, not following instructions could cost your money, leave you required to wear your glasses, or even blind. 

We discovered many people in the Heartland know what this is like first hand. 

"My eyes were just terribly itching my eyes I was just scratching them to death," said Lisa Williams. 

Williams remembers coming close to an eye infection after wearing her contacts for too long. 

"I've had some bumps due to long term wear of contact lenses that have irritated my eyes," said Williams. 

Doctors say avoiding a painful infection is exactly what brought Lisa Williams to her eye doctor, Laura Evans at Leet Eye Care. 

"I had to live without my contacts for three weeks," recalled Williams. "I got here as soon as I started having issues." 

What starts as minor redness can quickly lead to infections ranging from Keratitis that can lead to blindness to others that cause scaring to pink eye. 

"The eyes need oxygen and they need moisture," said Dr. Evans. "Listen to your eyes if they feel uncomfortable that's the day to wear your glasses." 

Dr. Evans says she sees patients with infections all the time from dirty or worn out contacts.

"Lids get swollen and red," said Evans. "The main thing for patients they need to know symptoms like light sensitivity and redness or characteristics that become more of an ulcer. It takes strong antibiotics to take care of that." 

She says all you have to do is take a few minutes to follow instructions: throw them away regularly, take them out at night, and wash them properly. 

The CDC report indicates improper contact lens use costs Americans more than $175 million in direct health care expenditures each year.

Some contacts are approved to be slept in up to 30 days, yet doctors recommend you still take them out once a week. Doctors we spoke with love the newest on the market that can be worn for one day and them disposed of. Ask your eye doctor what's the correct prescription for you. 

The CDC recommends these tips to prevent infections of the eye: 

1. Wash hands with soap and water and dry before touching contact lenses;

2. Take contacts out before bed, or showing, and also swimming. 

3. Rub and rinse contacts in solution each time they removed. 

4. Rub and rinse the case with contact lens solution. Dry with a clean tissue then, store upside down with the caps off after each use.

5. Replace contact lens cases at least once every three months.

6. Carry a backup pair of glasses. 

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