There are 4.2 million contact lens wearers in the UK and while many look after their eyes and lenses, others, according to a new report are putting their eye health at risk by failing to follow basic contact lens care guidelines.
London, 19th September. Over two million people in the UK are currently affected by sight loss and this is set to double by 2050. A recent report commissioned by Vision Direct, Europe’s largest online contact lens retailer, is a stark reminder of how important eye health is. The research was conducted in the run up to National Eye Health Week (18 to 24 September), promoting the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for everyone.
- Over 70% of contact lens wearers have fallen asleep in their lenses
- 39% have worn them whilst swimming and shockingly, almost a quarter (23%) have rinsed their lenses in water rather than solution to disinfect them
- Specialists have seen a big rise in the number of cases of diseases associated with contact lenses.
The research found that a staggering 70% of contact lens wearers have fallen asleep in their lenses, with the most common reasons being because they forgot to take them out (41%), had a bit too much to drink (27%) or were too tired to take them out (21%) – resulting in them waking up with dry and uncomfortable eyes.
Men (76%) are more likely than women (64%) to fall asleep in their lenses – mostly because they forgot (47%) or had a bit too much to drink (32%).
One of the more shocking stats was that 39% of contact lens wearers admit they have worn them whilst swimming or washing and 23% have rinsed their lenses in water as opposed to the recommended solution. Specialists have recently noticed a big rise in cases of acanthamoeba keratitis caused by exposure to contaminated water, with 85% of these cases occurring in contact lens wearers who are otherwise fit and healthy.
Aside from not cleaning lenses properly, many are wearing them for longer than the recommended time. Three in ten (29%) have worn single-use lenses more than once – with men (35%) being more likely than women (25%) to do this. On the other hand, women are more likely to wear lenses for longer than the recommended time (41%) than men are (36%).
Brendan O’Brien, COO and Head Optician at Vision Direct, said:
“In reality while some of the data is quite shocking it is not altogether surprising in my experience. Contact lens quality today is spectacularly better than a decade ago and with this quality comes improved comfort. When your lenses are really comfortable, it becomes a bit more likely for wearers to just forget they haven’t removed their lenses.”
“Those who often don’t follow guidelines on contact lens care are more likely to experience a problem with their eye health. It’s important to remember, however, that millions of happy wearers never have any issues with their lenses.”
Michele Acton, CEO of Fight for Sight, a charity that’s mission is to fight sight loss said:
“We are delighted to be supporting National Eye Health Week. It’s a good time to remind people to take care of their eye sight. The combination of regular eye tests, people looking after their overall health and Fight for Sight funding pioneering research into the prevention and treatment of sight loss means that we can one day stop sight loss in its tracks.”