Wearing contacts certainly has its perks — not the least of which is the fact that you actually have peripheral vision. However, with those privileges comes great responsibility. Any eye doctor worth their salt will tell you that wearing contacts overnight can lead to serious infection and even blindness.
But does anyone listen?
Just to warn you, some of this content is a bit graphic. If you're squeamish, you might want to skip this one.
Meet Chad Groeschen. He's an avid scuba diver and hiker -- and he's a contact wearer.
A user of "extended wear" contacts, Groeschen did as the packaging told him he could do, and left the contacts in for days at a time. He would wear them for up to a week straight, often bathing and sleeping in them.
One day, his eyes began itching, but he just chalked it up to allergies. But one night, he woke up to cloudy vision in his left eye, and a serious headache akin to sinus pressure. He decided to go to the doctor to see what was going on.
The news he got from the physician wasn't what he expected.
Doctors discovered that the cause of this discomfort was Pseudomonas bacteria.
This bacteria usually accumulates underneath contacts if lenses are left in for extended periods of time.
While they were able to stop the infection, the damage was already done.
Groeschen is currently completely blind in his left eye.
A corneal transplant may be able to restore some of his vision, but that can't happen until any open sores or wounds in the eye are healed.
This might seem like a freak accident, but the American Academy of Ophthalmology says otherwise. Especially among "extended wear" users, infections brought on by careless maintenance are surprisingly common. Any lens, regardless of whether or not the company claims that it can be worn overnight, can cause similar damage if worn for too long.
You can check out Groeschen's story below, but the content is a little disturbing. You've been warned.
If you're a contact wearer, always remember to take good care of your lenses.
Here are a few tips:
- Never sleep in your lenses, even if they're the "extended wear" kind. Take them out every night.
- Replace lenses regularly.
- Change contact solution before you store them every day.
- Never wear contacts in water (swimming, bathing, etc.)
- Never wear contacts while you're sick.
These little things can pack a big, blinding punch.
You only get one set of eyes, so be sure to take care of them! If you feel like they're acting up, see a doctor immediately. No amount of pride is worth risking blindness.
If you'll excuse me, I need to go change my contacts.
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