Clean and safe handling of contacts is one of the easiest and most essential measures patients can take to protect their vision.

Are you ready for Contact Lens Health Week?

To doctors of optometry, the warning is worth repeating to the nation's 45 million contact lens wearers: Contact lenses provide many vision benefits, but you risk your eye health if you don't handle with care. That message will be underscored Aug. 20-24 during Contact Lens Health Week 2018, organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This year's theme is "Healthy habits mean healthy eyes."

The AOA is partnering with the CDC to promote the fifth annual awareness campaign. Among the AOA opportunities:

  • Doctors can access promotional materials, including a D-I-Y press release and patient-friendly "Do's and don'ts for contact lens wearers" infographic here with their member login. A CDC promotional toolkit is available here.

  • Doctors can view and order the newly updated patient education pamphlet, "Contact Lens Wear & Care," in AOA Marketplace.

  • AOA will engage in the CDC's Facebook Live panel discussion Monday at 2 p.m. (EST) at facebook.com/CDC. The official campaign hashtag for Contact Lens Health Week 2018 is #OnePairTakeCare. Panelists include CDC medical epidemiologist Jennifer Cope, M.D., M.P.H., and ophthalmologist Thomas Steinemann, M.D.

  • AOA President Samuel D. Pierce, O.D., will be making appearances on television, radio and internet that will air during the campaign in 19 medium- and large-sized markets such as Phoenix, New Orleans, Raleigh, Memphis, Wichita, St. Louis, as well as in the state of California.

"It's extremely important that patients get routine eye exams and only wear contact lenses that are prescribed by an eye doctor. Doctors of optometry can help patients better understand how to obtain the full benefits of contact lenses and reduce the chances of developing problems," says Dr. Pierce.

Adds Shalu Pal, O.D., chair of the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section: "The week provides an additional reminder for all to be diligent with their contact lens hygiene routines and to follow proper protocols, which ensure the safety of our contact-lens-wearing patients."

Handle with care

Clean and safe handling of contacts is one of the easiest and most essential measures patients can take to protect their vision. Otherwise they risk getting bacteria in their eyes and causing infections (microbial keratitis) that can lead to blindness if left untreated.

The CDC highlighted the dangers of sleeping in contact lens in an article, "Corneal Infections Associated with Sleeping in Contact Lenses-Six Cases, United States, 2016-2018" in its Aug. 17 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

"Among the many behaviors that increase the risk for a contact lens-related corneal infection, sleeping in contact lenses is one of the riskiest and one of the most commonly reported behaviors among adolescent and adult contact lens wearers," the MMWR reports.  

"Approximately one-third of contact lens wearers report sleeping or napping in their lenses," the report continues. "Sleeping in lenses, whether inadvertently, occasionally, or as part of a prescribed wearing schedule, increases the risk for contact lens-related eye infections six- to eight-fold."

The AOA recommends contact lens wearers maintain safe and healthy eyes by:

  • Always washing and thoroughly drying your hands before handling contact lenses.
  • Carefully and regularly cleaning contact lenses as directed by your doctor of optometry. Rubbing the contact lenses with your fingers and rinsing them thoroughly before soaking the lenses overnight in multipurpose solution that completely covers each lens.
  • Storing lenses in the proper lens storage case and replacing the case at least every three months.
  • Using only products recommended by a doctor of optometry to clean and disinfect lenses.
  • Using only fresh solution to clean and store contact lenses. Never reuse old solution.
  • Always following the recommended contact lens replacement schedule doctors prescribe.
  • Removing contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.
  • Never using expired prescriptions or stock up on lenses right before the prescription is about to expire.
  • Seeing a doctor of optometry for a regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.

The AOA encourages doctors to report adverse events and illegal sales of contact lenses, considered medical devices, to the AOA, FDA and the Federal Trade Commission. Here’s how:

Doctors of optometry: If you have suggestions on how the AOA can best support your coding needs, please contact Kara Webb, AOA's associate director for coding and regulatory policy, by email or call 703.837.1018. Patients with questions can contact Medicare directly at 1.800.633.4227.

August 16, 2018

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