Spooky Contacts Eye Damage
October 29, 2011 by staff
Back home in West Virginia the next day, he felt a sharp pain in her left eye. The ill-fitting contact lenses had formed a suction on the cornea, the membrane delicate, transparent covers the pupil and iris. She literally had to break off contact, leading to serious injury and extremely painful.
“The car window was open, and I found a piece of wood had flown and he stabbed me in the eye was so bad,” said Butler. “I had two kids and I never felt such pain in my life.”
Contact lenses are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is illegal to sell without a prescription in the United States, but Halloween is a time when sales of “special effects”, “theatrical” and “decorative” contact lenses peak, according to experts. Decorative lenses do not correct vision, but can turn the blue, green or purple, or give the appearance of the eyes of zombie or a cat.
Although there is nothing wrong with the purchase of decorative contact an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, who will ensure that the lens fits your eye properly, buying business contacts flea markets, street vendors or beauty supply stores is dangerous, experts warn.
Ill-fitting contacts or contacts who are not adequately addressed can lead to injuries and infections that can cause blindness, said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a professor of ophthalmology at MetroHealth Medical Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
“We are concerned especially this time of year. Halloween is approaching, and people do things for fun or a dare. And who are greater risk takers? Children,” Steinemann said.
He treated a 14-year-old who has a “blind infection” – Pseudomonas aeruginosa – after using the counter contacts. The infection was fast, and within 24 hours, the girl was in the hospital while doctors worked to save her eye.
“We have the infection under control, but was left with a scar on the cornea which left him blind in the eye,” Steinemann said. To restore the vision needed a corneal transplant. “It’s a terrible price to pay,” he said.
Because our hands and face full of bacteria, even using properly fitted contact lenses run the risk of infection, Steinemann said. However, eye care professionals reduce risk through education of contact lens wearers about proper use and care of the contacts, such as never sleeping in contacts and the use of a sterile solution for contact lenses you save.
Infections associated with contact lenses can be serious. “A person can lose a significant amount of vision in 24 hours,” Steinemann said.
When Butler arrived home, she said she was curled in a fetal position because he was in such agony. The next day went to the emergency room, where he received antibiotics andanlgesics.
She saw an ophthalmologist per day during the first week and then weekly for 8 weeks. She could not drive for more than two months, and have medical expenses for thousands of dollars.
Butler said he hopes her story will deter others from buying contacts without seeing an eye care professional first. “I was about to be blinded by the rest of my life,” he said.
The FDA offers these tips for safe use of contact lenses:
Get an eye exam by a physician licensed eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) who will examine your eye, make sure the lenses fit properly and write a prescription, even if the lenses are purely cosmetic.
Follow the instructions for cleaning, disinfection and use of lenses, and see your doctor for follow-up examinations.
Never share contacts or contact lens solution.
Seek medical attention right away if you have signs of eye infection as possible, such as redness, pain, discharge or decreased vision.
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