3 Possible Side Effects From Long Term Contact Use and How to Prevent Them

Over 45 million people in the U.S. wear corrective contact lenses to see clearly everyday. Contacts are a safe and effective form of corrective eyewear that can be a great alternative to glasses. While they can provide many benefits, contact lenses are not risk-free.  Improper contact lenses use and care can cause permanent damage to your eyes and vision. At NeoVision Eye Center, we are dedicated to keeping our Bay Area patients informed and safe, especially when it comes to proper contact lens use. In this guide we look at three possible side effects of long-term contact use, and how to prevent them before they cause irreversible damage.

1. The Lack of Oxygen to the Eye: Hypoxia

Healthy eyes depend on a steady flow of oxygen to the cornea which is the clear, outermost layer of the eye. Contact lenses restrict this flow by sitting directly on top of the cornea, which could result in oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia. This is most common in contact wearers that sleep in contacts not designed to be worn for a prolonged period of time.

Symptoms of hypoxia include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Discomfort from cornea swelling
  • Burning sensation

The best way to avoid hypoxia is by minimizing your contact use and being aware of any discomfort in your eye. Soft contact options are designed to provide more oxygen to the eye, but less severe hypoxia can still occur after wearing them for too long.

2. Infectious Injury to the Cornea: Keratitis

Keratitis is a painful inflammation and possible infection of the eye caused by minor injuries typically associated with improper contact lens use. This corneal ulcer is so common in fact, it results in an estimated 1 million doctor visits every year in the U.S. 

Continuous contact use, especially overnight as you sleep, increases the chances for minor abrasions to occur on the cornea which can lead to serious infections. 

Symptoms of keratitis include:

  • Red eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Excessive tears or discharge from your eye
  • Blurry or decreased vision
  • Constant eye irritation

Follow your eye doctor’s instructions on taking care of your contact lenses, and never sleep with them in if they are not specifically designed for overnight wear. Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes or handling your contacts. Store your contacts lens and hygiene products in a clean location, and dispose of anything that could be contaminated. 

Any signs of keratitis should be met with a prompt call to NeoVision to diagnose and treat it before it leads to corneal scarring and permanent vision problems.

3. Permanent Vision Issues from Ill-Fitting Contact Lenses

Every eye is unique in their shape, size, and needs when it comes to properly fitting contact lenses. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and opting for cheaper, unregulated contact lenses may permanently affect your eyes and vision, even if the dangers are not apparent right away. 

Signs of improperly fitting contact lenses:

  • Eye discomfort
  • Blurred vision with contacts in
  • Red eyes
  • A scratching and burning sensation in your eye
  • Excessive tearing or eye secretions

With continued use of improperly fitted contact lenses, permanent vision damage can occur including abrasions, infections, vision loss, and an inability for your eye to tolerate contact lenses.

Consulting your eye doctor for proper contact fitting and receiving annual eye exams is the crucial first step for healthy long-term contact use. 

Learn More About Receiving a Contact Lens Fitting Exam at NeoVision Eye Center

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Ensuring your eye prescription is up-to-date, and that your contact lenses fit properly is essential to maintaining healthy eyes and vision. At NeoVision, our ophthalmologists can provide a thorough evaluation to determine the best contact lenses for your needs. We can also provide an extensive lens fitting trial which will allow you to test several different lens types for fit and compatibility to ensure your complete satisfaction.
Contact NeoVision Eye Center to schedule a contact lens fitting exam today.