DALLAS, Texas – Forty-one million Americans wear contact lenses and a third of them report at least one visit to the doctor because of red or painful eyes. Often the culprit is poor hygiene or misuse of the lenses. Sometimes it gets so bad that it requires surgery.
As an aircraft mechanic, 26-year-old Rebekah Fraser depends on her eyes. Yet, for years she slept in her contact lenses, developing ulcers on her eyes.
Fraser said, “I had the kind of contacts that you were supposed to take out every night and clean them and let them sit in the morning, and I never did that, I just slept with them in.”
Jeffrey Whitman, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Key Whitman Eye Centers in Dallas, Texas, explained, “There’s a much higher rate of infection and corneal ulcers with this that can have a permanent impact in your vision if they are not treated. Becka was legally blind without wearing some type of prescription eye wear.”
Dr. Whitman performed Lasik surgery, traditionally done to correct near-sightedness, but in Becka’s case, it also reshaped her cornea and saved her vision.
“She saw 20/20 the next day and she could already tell as soon as she got up from the procedure table that she could see better already,” detailed Dr. Whitman.
Fraser said, “It’s made a huge impact on my life. It’s helped with work, it’s helped with play, and it’s helped with driving. It’s helped with everything. It still surprises me, like there will be days where I am like, yeah, I can still see, there’s no problems with it, I can still see.”
To prevent eye infections and more serious vision problems, doctors remind patients not to sleep in contact lenses. Also, don’t top off old solution with new solution, and replace contact lenses when recommended.