Your Contact Lenses Could Be Infested with Skin Bacteria

If you wear contact lenses, you probably don’t follow every single rule of lens ownership to the letter. After all, it’s kind of a pain to change your solution every single day, or wash your hands every time you touch your eyes. Plus, does anyone really throw their contacts out after the recommended use?

But there’s a chance all those bad habits might add up to something, well, bad. According to a small new study published in the journal mBio, people who wore contacts had higher proportions of the skin bacteria Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, Methylobacterium, and Lactobacillus in their eyeballs.

And while there’s a chance this bacteria could make an eye infection worse, it’s most likely not going to cause one, says Michelle Akler, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Akler Eye Center in Dearborn, Michigan, who adds that you shouldn’t panic. “It does change the composition of the microbes on the eye, but the eye is always colonized with some microbes,” she says.

If you’re planning on having eye surgery, though, you should pay closer attention to what your putting in your peepers afterwards. Robert J. Noecker, M.D., an ophthalmologist with Ophthalmic Consultants of Connecticut, says improper lens care could increase your risk of developing corneal ulcers or an infection if you get eye surgery like Lasik. Since your eyes are more vulnerable post-op, any outside bacteria getting in could cause issues.

So, should you swap out your lenses for glasses? Akler says it depends on how you’re wearing them. If you remove your contacts every night and clean them properly, she says it’s not necessary. But if you tend to leave them in overnight when they’re not extended-wear contacts, you could be asking for trouble.

“Even the best contact lenses do not allow 100 percent oxygen to the cornea,” explains Noecker. “This can cause the cornea to swell, especially when sleeping.” And, if your cornea is swollen, it can cause the surface cells of your eye to fall off and allow bacteria to enter the cornea, causing an infection, he says.

Next time you go to pop out your lenses without scrubbing up first, keep this in mind: Do you really want skin bacteria in your eyeballs? We didn’t think so.

Source: women health


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