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What contact lens wearers should know about their lenses

Dr. Gary Foulks, Kentucky Lions Eye Center

"Infections associated with contact lenses are recognized complications of lens wear, particularly with the breach of the lens or over wear of the lens."

Dr. Gary Foulks is a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Louisville. He says millions of people wear contact lenses and take good care of them. But there's still the risk of infection.

Foulks continues

"A contact lens on the surface of the eye is still a foreign body and presents potential problems to the corneal surface. When there's a break in the barrier, that's when the bacteria or fungus has the chance for infection."

Bacterial infections are the most common eye infections. But the recent outbreak of a fungal infection has eye doctors everywhere on alert. About two-thirds of the reported fungus infections have been with patients using a certain brand of lens solution. Foulks says signs of infection are irritation and redness after the lenses have been removed. Both bacterial and fungal infections can be treated. But fungal infections require more in depth treatment.

Foulks adds

"A fungus is slow growing, but when it gets into the eye it penetrates deeply and is a chronic inflammation. We treat bacterial infections with antibiotics. Treatment for fungus infections requires antibiotics, oral treatment and possibly corneal transplant."

Foulks says proper lens care can minimize the risk of infections. Clean the lens with appropriate solutions, clean the lens case regularly and replace it from time to time, and always wash your hands before putting the contact lenses in your eyes.

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