Glasses-only folks, move along and breathe easy. In conjunction with Contact Lens Health Week, starting this Sunday, the CDC wants Americans to know that they may be putting their eye health at risk because of poor lens care. Contacts can be relatively safe, of course, but all too often wearers will take "shortcuts" (switching out new pairs infrequently, not cleaning the lenses regularly) that end up having some major consequences. Remember the young woman who went blind this summer? An extreme case, but still a contact-related mishap.
The condition that results from poor contact maintenance is called keratitis, and it occurs when germs find their way into the cornea (the dome-shaped part of the eye that goes over your iris). Nearly one million cases of keratitis are recorded annually. It's a manageable enough infection, as long as you promptly get in touch with a doctor. But, without proper medical attention, keratitis can lead to partial, even total, vision loss.
If all of this is starting to sound scary, don't throw away your contacts just yet. It's pretty easy to avoid contact-related eye infections. You just have to do what you were probably told to do when you got contacts in the first place: Take them out before sleeping, showering, or swimming; replace your lenses and case regularly; and please, please wash your hands before touching your bare eyeball.
Looks like Contact Lens Health Week is the week when we are all reminded of hygiene guidelines that should be common sense.