Warning: Improper Use of Contact Lenses Can Lead to Blindness, Ophthalmologists Caution

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By Rhoda Krah

Are you wearing contact lenses because your doctor prescribed them or you are fond of wearing the device because they look good on you as a fashionable eye accessory? Well, ophthalmologists are warning that improper wearing of contact lenses can lead to permanent blindness.

These thin lenses placed directly on the surface of the eyes are ocular prosthetic devices used by over 150 million people worldwide, and they can be worn to correct vision or for cosmetic or therapeutic reasons.

Contact lenses were made with the purpose of helping to correct various eye defects as an alternative or replacement for wearing medical glasses. However, trends changed with time, and today these devices are used equally as fashion items. Many people wear them without medical advice, hence putting themselves at risk for a number of medical-related issues that affect the eye.

According to the market research organization Valuates Report, the current size of the global contact lens market is estimated to be around 24.2 billion dollars. In Ghana, there is an increase in the use of these contact lenses as most of the youth wear them for both corrective and cosmetic purposes.

According to ophthalmologists, increased incidents of diseases such as acanthamoeba keratitis, conjunctivitis (pink eyes) and corneal ulcer are being attributed to wrongful use of contact lenses.

Doris, a 21-year old L300 student of African University College of Communications (AUCC) explained that she prefers wearing contact lenses to glasses because “my glasses made me look funny cause my eyes are very small, so I looked for an alternative and that resulted me in wearing contact lens given to me by my ophthalmologist and I was taught how to wear it and when to take it off.”

While medicated contact lenses offer some level of safety, cosmetic contact lenses seem to be less secure as they are most often worn without previous medical advice. This is however not an obstacle for people who want to feel good about themselves.

Another AUCC student, Tina, also of L300, disclosed that, as a model, her job required her to sometimes have it on for shoots. She started feeling good in them and kept wearing them regularly. Unfortunately for Tina, she was asked to stop wearing them it after she visited an ophthalmologist to have her eyes checked following severe pains that she felt for days after taking her contact lens off after a shoot. Tina was diagnosed with eye irritation, a condition that needed OTC artificial tear drop constantly to lubricate her dry eyes.

“Now I stay off it completely,” Tina said.

She was lucky she stopped when she did. According to Dr. Louisa Abubakar of Guys and St. Thomas hospital in the UK, there are potential complications involved in wearing contact lenses when they are not worn the right way.

“For instance, it is bad to sleep with contact lenses on, because they starve the cornea from receiving oxygen. One must also not swim with contact lens on because infections like acanthamoeba keratitis can be contracted which may lead to corneal ulcer. They can even lead to blindness.”

She said although the devices can be worn daily, the eyes are not to be rubbed vigorously when contact lenses are worn to prevent the lenses from dislocating.

She added that contact lenses do not expire but the saline solution in the blister pack does.

“These lenses could be changed daily, monthly or yearly depending on the brand. They are expensive as compared to glasses. I advise that persons who want to wear them, be it for corrective or cosmetic purpose, should visit an optometrist to be diagnosed to know if they are a better fit for contact lens,”she said

Everyone can definitely wear contact lenses. Yet, both for corrective and cosmetic purposes, safety should be first. Be it for corrective or cosmetic purposes, contact lenses should be worn after having sought medical advice.

14 thoughts on “Warning: Improper Use of Contact Lenses Can Lead to Blindness, Ophthalmologists Caution

  1. This is a great piece. By raising awareness on this important heath issue, it would help people make wise choices to safeguard their eyesight.

  2. Wearing contact lenses as a fashionable item is so scary and this right here will allow individuals learn of the dangers

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