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Contact lens wearers admit they swim, shower and sleep in contact lenses

A YouGov poll by Fight for Sight reports that 54% came into contact with water in their contact lenses, while 47% admit to sleeping in them

15 Jul 2019 by Selina Powell

New research by Fight for Sight has highlighted the non-compliant behaviour of contact lens wearers.

The YouGov poll found that 56% of respondents admitted to wearing their lenses for more than 12 hours a day, while 54% swam or showered in their contact lenses and 47% said that they had slept in their contact lenses.

More than one in 10 (15%) respondents admitted putting their contact lenses in their mouth to clean them, while only 27% of those surveyed were aware that wearing contact lenses washed in water can be sight-threatening.

Close to half (47%) said that information regarding contact with tap water on contact lens packaging and information materials was not clear.

The survey results come amid a three-fold increase in the sight-threatening eye infection, acanthamoeba keratitis, which can be linked to contact lenses being exposed to water.

Fight for Sight director of research, policy and innovation, Dr Neil Ebenezer, highlighted that the lack of awareness around the correct use of contact lenses is concerning.

“Contact lens manufacturers should also do their part by making the ‘no water’ message clearer on all contact lens packaging and accompanying literature. This message should be re-emphasised by opticians to ensure patients follow this important advice,” he said.

AOP clinical and regulatory adviser, Roshni Kanabar, said that while acanthamoeba keratitis is rare, the survey results reinforce the importance of promoting contact lens hygiene.

“We advise that contact lens wearers never use tap water to clean their lenses or shower, swim or bath in them as this can not only potentially lead to infection but other issues, such as corneal ulcers. Contact lenses shouldn't be swapped or shared either and it's important to have regular after care appointments with your optometrist, to check your eye health and make sure the lens is still working for you,” she highlighted.

The AOP has a range of contact lens resources on its website, including a patient advice leaflet for soft contact lens wearers that practitioners can download. 

Ms Kanabar added: "It's also important to note that there are unregulated products out there, that are easy to access online or from unlicensed suppliers, which should be avoided. Your lenses should always be bought from an optometrist, optician or medical practitioner to make sure you are fitted with a high-quality product that is most suited to your needs."

Image credit: Laurence Derbyshire

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