By Michael Hutton
Vision correction with contact lenses is an increasingly popular alternative to wearing glasses yet a new study indicates that many contact lens wearers fail to follow the recommendations of their optician for both cleaning and replacing their lenses. Researchers working for the Centre for Contact Lens Research at the University of Waterloo in Ontario evaluated the relationship between compliance with optician recommendations for lens cleaning and replacement frequency and contact lens-related eye health problems. The data was collected from patients at seven major optician practices in Canada who completed surveys regarding their lens-wearing habits and any contact lens-related problems they had experienced in the preceding 12 months.
The survey results revealed that 60 percent of respondents who wore either two-weekly or monthly lenses had worn their lenses longer than their optician's recommended replacement frequency. Those wearing two-weekly lenses wore their lenses for an average of over five weeks and those with monthly lenses wore their lenses for an average of six weeks. Some 26% of those who wore their lenses longer than recommended reported signs or symptoms of contact lens-related eye problems - a much higher response than for those who replaced lenses on schedule. Having chosen the option of vision correction with contact lenses, it is surprising that lens wearers would then fail to follow the advice of their optician in ensuring they enjoyed a problem-free experience.
Furthermore, lens wearers who reported that they "never" or "almost never" rubbed their lenses using an appropriate multi-purpose cleaning solution had significantly greater risk of experiencing problems compared with those who regularly performed the recommended "rinse and rub" cleaning method. The consequences of poor compliance on lens cleaning and replacement can include compromised vision correction and increased risk of eye infections. Indeed, a poor hygiene regimen is the most common cause of microbial keratitis, one of the worst forms of bacterial infection. Invariably, lens wearers indicate that their failure to follow optician recommendations arises because they do not have enough time or simply forget - even after the eye health implications are explained fully by their optician at their fitting appointment.
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