Contact confessions: Tips for using contact lenses

They help many of us see, but you have to look closely to see them. Millions of Americans wear contact lenses.

Now, a few recent studies show almost all of those people are putting their eyes in danger.

Optometrist Sheri McGurk explains how dangerous it is when people do not take care of their contact lenses, "You're playing Russian roulette there."

Optometrist Sheri McGurk is shocked by the results of a study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. It claims of the 30 million contact lens wearers in the US, 99 percent are doing something wrong.

Erika Avery wears contacts and explains one of the top offenses, "I've fallen asleep in them when I shouldn't have."

Doctor McGurk says the danger in doing that is you're cutting off oxygen to your eyes. Your eyes can quickly develop infections and bacterial ulcers like this, called pseudomonas.

Doctor McGurk explains how bad it can get, "Pseudomonas can eat through the cornea in 24 hours."

Another study by Bausch and Lomb finds 20 percent of contact wearers have stored their lenses in everything from beer to coke to baby oil. Erika has used tap water.

Erika says, "I've been guilty of that a few times."

Doctor McGurk explains how bad tap water is, "Tap water is terrible. There are bacteria, and there are chemicals in tap water."

The bacteria can cause a corneal infection that's resistant to treatment. McGurk says only use contact solution to store and clean your lenses. If it's irritating your eyes talk to your doctor about switching brands.

Hair Dresser Jane Ellis explains how when she switched it helped, "I switched solutions and that stopped happening."

But hair-dresser Jane Ellis is guilty of something else, using her two-week contacts longer than recommended.

Doctor McGurk explains how harmful it can be for using contacts past their given time, "By the time that we can feel that they feel uncomfortable, we've gone about 4 or 5 days too long."

McGurk says with the right contact care, you can avoid vision-impairing problems.

McGurk tells us the saying to live by when it comes to contacts is 'when in doubt, take them out!"

She also says don't just soak your contacts. It's very important to rub them between you fingers to dislodge any build-up and let more oxygen through.

Finally, make sure to have a pair of back-up glasses when your contacts just don't feel right.

REPORT #1881

CONTACT COMPLICATIONS: Contact lens related complications range from self-limiting to sight threatening, which require rapid diagnosis and treatment to prevent vision loss. With millions of individuals wearing contact lenses, even a small percentage of complications can constitute a major public health problem. Contact lens complications are as varied as they are common, involving the lids, conjunctiva, and all layers of the cornea (ie, epithelium, stroma, endothelium). (Source:
CONTACT LENS RISKS: Wearing contact lenses puts you at risk of several serious conditions including eye infections and corneal ulcers. These conditions can develop very quickly and can be very serious. In rare cases, these conditions can cause blindness. You cannot determine the seriousness of a problem that develops when you are wearing contact lenses. You have to get help from an eye care professional to determine your problem. (Source:

* discomfort
* excess tearing or other discharge
* unusual sensitivity to light
* itching, burning, or gritty feelings
* unusual redness
* blurred vision
* swelling
* pain


* Follow recommended wearing schedule.
* Do not substitute sterile saline solutions for multi-purpose solutions.
* Rub and rinse your contact lenses as directed by your eye care professional.
* Do not "top-off" the solutions in your case.
* Always discard all of the leftover contact lens solution after each use.
* Never reuse any lens solution.
* Clean, rinse and air-dry your lens case each time lenses are removed.
* Do not expose your contact lenses to any water: tap, bottled, distilled, lake or ocean water.
* Contact your eye care professional if you experience any symptoms of eye irritation/infection.

For More Information, Contact:

Dr. Sheri McGurk
(407) 677-8666

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