October Declared Contact Lens Safety Month to Educate Patients on Proper Use

In the United States, approximately 45 million people wear contact lenses, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, a recent study conducted by the CDC revealed that over 80 percent of contact lens wearers engage in behaviors that put them at risk for contact lens-related eye infections. These behaviors include sleeping or napping in lenses, swimming in lenses, and not replacing lenses and lens storage cases as frequently as recommended.

To address this issue, Prevent Blindness has designated October as Contact Lens Safety Month. The organization aims to educate patients about the correct methods of contact lens use to prevent serious vision issues. Prevent Blindness offers fact sheets, shareable social media graphics, and a dedicated webpage to provide valuable information on contact lens safety.

Colored contact lenses are particularly popular throughout the year, especially during Halloween, when people use them to enhance their costumes. However, it is essential to note that all contact lenses, even those used for cosmetic purposes, are classified by the FDA as prescription medical devices. Selling contact lenses without a prescription is considered misbranding and violates FTC regulations. Consumers should be cautious when purchasing contact lenses from unlicensed vendors, as these lenses may be contaminated or counterfeit.

Improper use of contact lenses can lead to two types of eye infections: acanthamoeba keratitis and fusarium keratitis. Symptoms of these infections include blurry vision, eye pain, sensation of something in the eye, sensitivity to light, and discharge. If anyone experiences these symptoms, it is crucial to remove the lenses immediately and consult an eye care professional.

During Halloween or any time of the year, contact lens wearers must exercise extra care when applying and removing eye cosmetics. The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises purchasing decorative contacts only from retailers that require a prescription and sell FDA-approved products. Using lenses that do not meet federal health and safety standards can cause corneal abrasions, ulcers, and keratitis.

It is important to emphasize that selling contact lenses without a prescription is illegal in the United States. Only prescription lenses fitted by an eye specialist should be used.

Prevent Blindness recommends several tips for contact lens wearers to maintain eye health:

– Never share contacts or use someone else’s.

– Apply aerosol products like hair spray or deodorant before inserting lenses.

– Insert lenses before applying makeup and remove them before removing makeup.

– Use water-soluble cosmetics labeled safe for use with contact lenses.

– Opt for pressed powder eye shadows instead of frosted or glittery ones that may contain harmful particles.

– Use an eye shadow base to keep the shadow in place and away from the eyes.

– Avoid waterproof mascara and eye makeup with nylon or rayon fibers, as they can flake off and scratch the cornea when caught under the lens.

Prevent Blindness President and CEO, Jeff Todd, emphasizes the importance of practicing good hygiene and being diligent in contact lens care to prevent painful and potentially blinding infections. Contact lenses can be used safely and effectively to improve vision, but it is crucial to follow proper hygiene practices.

By raising awareness during Contact Lens Safety Month, Prevent Blindness aims to ensure that contact lens wearers prioritize their eye health and avoid unnecessary risks.

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