• CDC: Contact Uses Have High Risk of Developing Eye Infections
  • March 10, 2015 | Author: Stephen J. Burg
  • Law Firm: Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. - Englewood Office
  • According to new information gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 1 million Americans develop eye infections each year, and wearing contacts is the most prevalent risk factor.

    By analyzing patient databases for outpatient medical facilities and emergency rooms around the U.S., the CDC found about 930,000 people visited outpatient clinics and 58,000 went to the ER because of an eye infection in 2010. Approximately 63 percent of the visits to outpatient clinics and 55 percent of visits to the ER were by women.

    The amount of time people spend at the doctor's office because of eye infections costs an estimated $175 million in direct healthcare costs, according to the CDC. For the individual, it costs an average $151 to visit an outpatient facility or $587 to go to the ER. It also took up more than 250,000 hours of physicians' time.

    Most common infection
    The CDC's release focused on Keratitis, a bacterial infection of the cornea. In most cases it causes pain, redness, inflammation, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and excessive tearing, and in extreme situations it can lead to partial or total blindness.

    Focus on prevention
    The most common cause of Keratitis is the improper use of contact lenses, particularly when they are not cleaned properly or are worn too long. Other factors that increase the risk of infection is wearing contacts after an eye injury, not treating eye-related medical problems, using contaminated lens solution and sharing cosmetic contact lenses with others.

    The CDC stated Keratitis is entirely preventable and stressed proper hygiene and contact care. To reduce the chance of infection, the agency recommended contact users:

    • Replace contact lenses every three months
    • Wash hands well with soap and water before touching lenses
    • Rinse contacts in disinfecting solution after taking them out
    • Rinse contacts in lens solution, dry with a tissue, then store upside down
    • Not only use water to clean lenses
    • Not "top off" lens solution in storage case
    • Remove contacts when eyes are irritated
    • Not wear contacts overnight
    • Not wear contacts in the shower or while swimming
    Keratitis is diagnosed by a physician examining a person's eyes and possibly sending a sample of a scraping of the cornea to the laboratory. If the patient has Keratitis or another bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotic eye drops.