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How do Contact Lenses Alter the Eye
New research suggests that contact lenses alter the eyes’ natural bacteria, causing experts to wonder whether they heighten the risk of infection. Here, the team at King LASIK breaks down the results of the study and explains what contact lens wearers need to know.

What Researchers Found

A team from New York University School of Medicine found that contact lens wearers harbored bacteria on their eye surface that is normally found on the skin surrounding the eye. Led by Maria Dominguez-Bello, PhD, the team collected samples from a small group of adults, and looked at the bacteria on the surface of the eye, the skin below the eye and on the contact lenses. Three additional samples were taken over the next six weeks.

The team found that people that don’t wear contact lenses have dramatically different bacterial composition between the surface of the eye and the skin surrounding the eye. In contrast, the contact lens wearers shared a similar bacterial makeup.

It was unclear why this shift in the eye’s natural microbial environment occurred. Dr. Dominguez-Bello suggested that finger-to-lens contact could transfer bacteria to the eye. Another theory she suggested was that “the lenses exert selective pressures on the eye bacterial community in favour of skin bacteria”.

Why is this Discovery Significant?

Ophthalmology experts have known for quite some time that wearing contact lenses is a risk factor for developing eye infections, including a painful condition called keratitis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that hygiene is a problem — between 40 and 90 percent of contact lens wearers neglect to properly clean and/or replace their lenses.

Dr. Dominguez-Bello said that her team’s study could possibly inspire additional studies to look more closely at the link between the eye’s microbiome and the heightened risk of eye infection in contact lens wearers.

What You Can Take from the Study

The results of this study confirm the importance of contact lens hygiene and care. If you wear contacts, you should be diligent about the following:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water prior to touching your lenses.
  • Rub and rinse (non-disposable) lenses with disinfecting solution.
  • Replace contact lenses as instructed by your eye care provider.
  • Do not sleep with contact lenses.
  • Replace disinfecting solutions every month and lens cases every three months.

Consider Your Laser Vision Correction Options

While contact lenses are not inherently dangerous, the cost and hassle of cleaning and replacing them can multiply over time. Laser vision correction has freed millions of people from reliance on contact lenses and glasses. To learn more about LASIK laser vision correction, please request a consultation with the team at King LASIK. Call us at (877) 551-2020 today.