Are contact lenses putting you at risk for infection? - - Jackson, MS

Are contact lenses putting you at risk for infection?

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Centers for Disease Control says eye infections affect more than a million people in the U.S. each year.

Most of those afflicted wear contact lenses.

"As a primary care physician, we get a lot of patients to come in with issues associated with their contact lenses," Dr. Timothy Quinn said.

A recent CDC report indicates millions more who use contacts are at risk, because of how those lenses are used.

More than 82 percent of those surveyed say they keep their contact lens cases longer than recommended.

Half say they wear their lenses while sleeping.

And nearly all of those surveyed reported at least one risky behavior, like handling the lenses with unwashed hands, which raises the risk of eye infection by five times or more.

Quinn said many contact lens wearers may not be aware they even have a problem.

"If they have like irritated, red eyes, maybe blurred vision, maybe they have light sensitivity or they have the sensation that something is in their eye, it's a good idea to go ahead and get checked to make sure you're safe," Quinn said.

Those symptoms could also point to a very rare but serious condition, where a parasite -- Acanthamoeba Keratitis -- uses a contact lens as a welcome mat to enter the cornea and feed on the eye itself.

It can be found in tap water and can get onto your lens because some use that to clean their contact lenses.

"When you swim or shower with your contact lenses on, there's always the potential for something like a bacteria or a parasite (or another contaminant) to get underneath your contact lenses and have exposure to your eye, which can be very dangerous," Quinn said.

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