Contact lenses are a very common way that patients choose to correct their vision. They have several advantages over glasses, but can cause problems too, if a patient is not familiar with contact lens care.
Advantages include better vision due to correction on the surface of the eye, and complete field of vision.
Several problems can occur as a result of contact lens wear too, so care must be taken to avoid these issues. Many doctors refer their patients to Dr. William Goldstein for evaluation and treatment of their contact-lens related problems.
How can contact lenses damage the eye?
Contacts can cause many problems in the eye, but only a few commonly encountered diagnoses can cause severe problems. Giant papillary conjunctivitis, punctate keratopathy and ulceration are the three most problematic issues.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC)
GPC occurs due to overwear of contact lenses, either too many hours per day, or too many days in a row. Symptoms include itching, inability to wear lenses all day, and mucous discharge.
Overwear can also lead to a problem on the surface of the cornea, where the top layer of cells are damaged. The eye doctor sees tiny pinpoint scratches on the cornea caused by decreased oxygen to those cells.
The most potential for a threat to vision is the corneal ulcer. In this case, bacteria penetrates the surface of the cornea, causing an infection that appears as a white spot. If untreated, this infection can penetrate and cause infection inside the eye.
How can we prevent contact lens problems?
The most important thing for patients to do is control their contact lens wear. Although many lenses are designed and approved for overnight wear for between 2 and 4 weeks, Dr. Goldstein recommends nightly removal and cleaning. The single most common cause of contact lens related problems is overwear, and a large study showed that overnight wear is fourteen times more likely to cause ulcers than any other risk factor.