Contact lenses can be extremely dangerous for eyesight

In worst cases contacts may lead to blindness

It is an open secret contacts make a very good alternative to glasses. Contacts do not sweat, they exclude optical defects, a person wearing contacts may go in for any kind of sports, they do not irritate nose and ears – contacts seem to be absolutely comfortable in every-day use. Eye doctors, however, point out negative consequences of wearing contact lenses.

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in October of 2003 about the use of color contacts, which became rather popular in the States. A lot of people believed they could buy and wear such contacts like sunglasses - without consulting doctors, just to change the eye color. The FDA, however, informed color contacts available on beaches, markets and on the Internet can inflame cornea. In worst cases the infection may even lead to blindness. Other unpleasant consequences include conjunctivitis, cornea edema, allergic reactions, decreasing eyesight contrast, etc.

The FDA inspected the production of several companies manufacturing color contacts. The administration warned several of them, BWild Incorporated in particular, against selling decorative contacts without adequate instructions printed on the packaging. Owners of Yahoo! portal and eBay auction received a notification, which prohibited direct sales of such contacts on the Internet.

Residents of the south of England risk losing eyesight from wearing contacts. London scientists determined such risk in England’s southern regions was nine times higher in comparison with other territories. Doctors conducted the research in England and Wales in 1997-1999. They assumed the ailment occurs because of water hardness. Microbes are much more active in hard water. Infection may penetrate into eyes from water – when people take a shower wearing contacts, for example. It was particularly specified the risk was a lot higher for people, who wear long-lasting contacts. Doctors concluded one should keep contacts away from water. It is not known, if such research has been conducted in Russia, although it is obvious the hardness of water in Russian regions varies considerably too.

Soft contacts may easily damage the eye surface despite the prompt eye care. American scientists from Ohio found out more than 50 percent of people using contacts suffer from damaged eye surface. The damage was found dangerous for the eyesight with every thirty person. Specialists from 20 American clinics examined 500 people, who used contacts not less than eight hours a day, not less than five days a week. An infection may penetrate into the eye through microscopic eye injuries caused with contacts. It is noteworthy, the eye damage can be treated without any doctors – one should simply not wear lenses for a while. Specialists also recommend regular consultations with oculists.

Not all doctors approve the eyesight correction with the help of contacts or glasses for children. Some of them believe it can only aggravate the situation: child's eye-muscles stop working normally when the artificial optics constantly helps them. Nevertheless, doctors prescribe contact lenses to children. The right decision depends on children's parents, of course. Unlike glasses, contacts require much more discipline – one should take them off for regular cleaning and so on. Therefore, parents must be reasonable about their child's perspective as far as contacts are concerned. If it is necessary to remind a child to do primitive work about the house every day, it means he or she is not ready for such responsibility.

Soft or hard contact lenses are usually prescribed to 12 or 13-year-old children. On the other hand, Ohio University specialists determined nine of ten children between eight and eleven years of age were used to wearing disposable contacts and handling them without adults' help in just three months. Disposable contact lenses are more expensive, but there is no need to clean or disinfect them. It is enough for a child to learn to put them on and remove them.

A person, who starts wearing contacts, should know what to do in case various problems occur, if it is very hard to take lenses off, for example. One should use only adequate solutions, recommended to specific lens types. Some solutions may cause allergic reactions – one should be very careful. Everything is extremely individual, when it comes to contact lenses: some people cannot wear the lenses by a certain producer, although lenses by a different maker can fit perfectly.

Wearing lenses 24 hours a day decreases the access of oxygen to the eye and increases the probability of eye infections. Doctors do not recommend such lenses, although they have been gaining more popularity recently. In addition, it is not recommended to wear contacts longer than specified. Such 'economy' often leads to lamentable consequences. It is strictly prohibited to clean contacts with saliva: people often do this when they need to wash the lenses, but water is out of reach. An eye infection is guaranteed in this case. One should be very careful wearing contacts under unfavorable conditions - in the dusty air or at industrial enterprises, for instance. In the future there will be lenses, which kill bacteria, correct the cornea shape, or even retrieve eyesight with electric current.

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Author`s name Olga Savka