Multiple patients have asked me if I heard about the recent case of a British woman who discovered she has 27 contact lenses accumulated in her eye when she went in for routine cataract surgery. She had been a contact lens wearer for decades and had inserted but never removed the lenses from her eyes. Many of my patients want to know–How could this happen? Why didn’t she notice? Have I ever heard of this happening?
This is an extreme and rare case and daily wear contact lenses are safe if used properly. However, visits made to eye doctors and emergency rooms for contact lens related complications from overnight use and improper use such as improper cleaning are much more commonplace. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Serious eye infections that can lead to blindness affect up to 1 out of every 500 contact lens wearers per year.
- Still, between 40 and 90% of contact lens wearers do not properly follow the care instructions for their contact lenses.
- Keratitis—a painful eye infection often linked to improper contact lens use—leads to 1 million doctor and hospital visits annually, at a cost of $175 million to the US healthcare system.
After several decades of performing LASIK I still hear the same feedback–most of my patients say that they want to have the procedure because their glasses are interfering with their activities or they want to be free of the care regimen and discomfort of wearing contact lenses. For the latter group, many of them have admitted to sleeping in their contact lenses, handling their lenses without washing their hands, using something other than the recommended lens solution for storage and not maintaining a clean lens case. LASIK gives them the freedom from the contact lens care regimen.