A student in Taiwan who left contact lenses in her eyes for six months straight developed a rare and serious eye infection that ultimately took her vision, according to a news report.
A single-celled organism called an amoeba was able to infect the outer covering of the woman's eye because she did not remove and clean the lenses at all during this time.
The condition is known as Acanthamoeba keratitis, and is most common among people who wear contact lenses.
Symptoms from the infection including eye pain, redness and blurred vision that can last for weeks or months, and can cause vision loss or blindness if left untreated.
Leaving contact lenses in the eyes for too long increases the risk of eye infections. The contact lens prevents the cornea from getting enough oxygen.
The cornea is a living, breathing organ, and it needs oxygen. Without adequate oxygen, the cells of the cornea can break down, essentially removing the eye's barrier to infection. Sleeping with contact lenses is not recommended.
Although Acanthamoeba keratitis is rare, other more common eye infections caused by bacteria also can happen by leaving contact lenses in for too long. You must change your contact lens solution regularly and keep your contact-lens case clean.
Editor's Note: Halloween may be over, but the following information on costume contacts applies all year round:
Halloween contacts and any other special-effects contacts are classified as medical devices. It’s important to note that all contact lenses are safe to wear only when properly prescribed and cared for, and purchased from a legitimate source.
You may want to look your scariest on Halloween, but the damage cheap costume lenses can do to your eyes is the real horror.
Putting the finishing touch to your Halloween costume is not worth a sight-threatening eye infection from improper contact lens use.
Mark D. Fromer, M.D., board certified ophthalmologist in surgery and treatment of eye diseases, has the distinction of being the eye surgeon for the New York Rangers hockey team and a NYC Honorary Police Surgeon. Dr. Fromer specializes in laser vision correction procedures, lectures extensively throughout the U.S., and maintains a very active role in teaching advanced surgical techniques and laser vision correction surgery to fellow ophthalmologists. For more information on this and other forms of advanced vision care, visit Fromer Eye Centers.© 2014 Dr. Mark Fromer
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