Posted: Dec 9, 2011 7:09 PM
Dec. 9, 2011 -- Most people who wear contact lenses say they know about the wear and care recommendations, but almost none actually comply with them, a new study shows.
More than 80% of contact lens wearers surveyed prior to an eye exam believed they followed good lens wear and care practices, but just 2% actually complied with most recommended lens hygiene steps.
And less than 1% were found to be fully compliant with recommendations such as washing their hands before handling lenses, using fresh lens solution every time instead of topping off old solution, and replacing lens cases frequently.
The new survey included patients undergoing eye exams in private practice or university-affiliated optometry settings.
Overall, 85% of the patients perceived themselves as compliant with all lens-wearing practices, but only 0.4% was considered fully compliant.
The study also showed that while most of the contact wearers knew what they needed to do to avoid complications, few actually followed all the recommendations. The researchers concluded that patient awareness was not the problem.
The most frequent complications reported by the surveyed contact lens wearers were discomfort (72%) and infection (47%).
In their analysis published in the December issue of the journal Optometry and Vision Science, researchers Danielle M. Robertson, OD, PhD, and H. Dwight Cavanagh, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center called for new strategies to improve compliance with safe contact lens use.
American Optometric Association (AOA) spokesman Randall Fuerst, OD, says one of the most common causes of contact lens-related complications is failure to replace contacts as recommended.
"This is particularly common with lenses approved for two-week use," he tells WebMD. "People often use them for three weeks or even a month, which can cause problems."
When wearers use lenses longer than recommended or don't follow proper handling and storage practices, there is a greater likelihood of deposit buildup that can lead to chronic eye redness or infection.
Among the other AOA recommendations:
Fuerst also recommends that people who choose to sleep in their contact lenses use a wetting drop made for contact wearers before going to bed at night and upon waking in the morning.
Most lenses sold today are approved for a seven-day continuous use, but some newer lenses have been approved for 30-day use.
Fuerst says people who do not take their contacts out for extended periods need to be especially vigilant about "listening to their eyes."
"If your eyes are feeling gritty, sandy, or irritated, or if they are more red than normal, take your contacts out and don't wear them when you sleep for a while," he says.