Improper care of contact lenses a major risk factor for keratitis

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87729610Keratitis (inflammation of the cornea) can result in partial or total loss of vision. The sight-threatening process can be extremely rapid corneal destruction may only take 24-48 hours. It can result from infectious agents (such as bacteria and viruses) as well as noninfectious causes (such as chemical or ultraviolet exposure). The largest single risk factor for microbial keratitis, however, is wearing contact lenses.

According to the CDC s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), an estimated 930,000 doctor s office and outpatient clinic visits and almost 60,000 emergency room visits for keratitis occur annually and inadequate care and use of contact lenses is the main reason. This includes poor storage case hygiene, infrequent storage case replacement, and overnight lens wear. The Washington Post quotes CDC medical epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Cope: People who wear contact lenses overnight are more than 20 times more likely to get Keratitis.

The CDC recommends several microbial keratitis prevention methods for contact-wearers, including washing hands with soap and water before touching contact lenses, keeping contact lenses away from water, and not sleeping in them. For lens and supplies care specifically, the CDC recommends cleaning lenses each time they are removed with lens disinfecting solution, replacing contacts every 3 months, and only storing contacts in fresh contact lens solution (never water).