Sharjah: Health problems associated with the use of contact lenses are at the top of the list of eye injuries suffered by university and high school students in the country, according to ophthalmologists.
“This is as a result of the improper use of contact lenses, lack of health awareness and violation of medical instructions, as well as failure to take necessary precautions concerning contact lens use and hygiene and long-term contact lens use,” University Hospital Sharjah (UHS) opthalmologists said in a Press release.
They said that just wearing contact lenses could cause corneal abrasions, scratches on the surface of the cornea, which inevitably lead to other eye problems.
Also, washing contact lenses with tap water causes certain types of bacteria, such as ‘Acantho Amoeba’, to become stuck to the lens, which in turn may lead to Acantha Amoeba keratitis, a condition caused by an amoeba — a parasite found in almost all tap water.
“This means the parasite can become trapped between the lens and the eye, allowing it to burrow into the eyeball and penetrate the cornea, thus increasing the likelihood of corneal ulcers,” said Dr Azzah Mohammed Al Jumaie, an ophthalmologist at the hospital.
“Sixty per cent of university and high school students wear contact lenses for cosmetic purposes, as a way to make a statement. Unfortunately, many of these students do not adhere to the medical instructions that accompany contact lens use, leading to very real medical problems,” she said.
Al Jumai said many people were advised to stop wearing contact lenses while others were told to change prescriptions, with annual eye check-ups strongly recommended.
She warned against getting medical advice from pharmacies when one suffers from a red eye due to the use of contact lenses because of a possible eye infection with Acantho Amoeba, which requires urgent laboratory tests to determine the cause of the condition.
“In case of eye infection, Acantho Amoeba keratitis treatment requires hospital admission, daily follow-up medical care and regular eye drops that are available only at hospitals and eye care centres,” said the doctor.
“The hospital has received numerous critical cases as a result of taking wrong medications from pharmacies that required urgent treatment and longer recovery period,” she added.
Contact lenses vary in terms of their recommended life span depending on the type of lenses — from one day, one week, to one month — and are made as per clearly defined specifications for each period.
According to medical instructions, contact lens users must not wear expired lens and must dispose of them once they are expired.
There are a number of common mistakes shared by many contact lens users.
Among these wrong practices is washing contact lenses with tap water, which leads to creation of a warm and humid climate optimum for the growth of bacteria to enter into the eye’s five layers within four to six hours, where previous scratches may help speed up the entry of bacteria into the eyeball.
The eye specialists advised students to refrain from lens exchange, especially coloured lenses which are frequently exchanged between female students.
© Khaleej TimesNov 2013