Contact lenses are very safe devices that have made life easier and less aggravating for many individuals with vision problems. However, wearing them can potentially damage your eyes if you fail to clean them properly or allow them to stay in place longer than the amount of time recommended by your optometrist. Even though it is not probable that your contacts will permanently damage your eyes, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the potential hazards associated with their use.
The Role of Oxygen
Due to the fact that corrective contact lenses sit directly on the surface of the eye and cover all or part of the cornea, less oxygen reaches your eyes whenever your contacts are in place. In order to keep your eyes healthy, a generous oxygen supply is necessary. Therefore, if you wear contacts for an inappropriate length of time, you are limiting this supply of oxygen and possibly damaging your eyes. Fortunately, there are several avenues through which to prevent damage from oxygen deprivation.
Choosing the Best Material
One of the best ways to avoid eye damage is to religiously follow the wearing schedule provided by your eye doctor when you first obtained your contact lenses. In addition, choosing silicone hydrogel lenses or gas permeable contacts may also benefit your eyes, as this material is considered by most experts to be safer for your eyes than the materials used to manufacture traditional soft contact lenses.
Bacteria and Germs
Another factor that plays a role in eye damage for contact wearers is the buildup of germs and bacteria on the surface of the lenses. As time goes on, this accumulation occurs on both sides of the contacts, ultimately leading to eye infections. Although the latter can be cured, it is important to understand that permanent damage is possible.
Following a Proper Replacement Schedule
Even if you religiously adhere to the directions provided regarding your contacts, deposits will eventually build up on the surface of the lenses. This is why the longer you wear a specific set of contacts without replacing them, the greater risk there is of the aforementioned deposits reducing the oxygen supply to your eyes and subsequently causing damage. This is why it is important to dispose of and replace your contact lenses according to schedule given to you by your eye doctor. Finally, never skip routine eye examinations, as your optometrist is trained to keep your eyes healthy and safe by detecting problems before eye damage occurs.