Experts: Poor contact lens care exposes many to eye infections

An eye ailment sent Audrie Pirkl to the hospital.

“My eyes were very, very red – like completely bloodshot,” she said. “My left eye was just like black. I could not see out of it.”

It happened after wearing her contact lenses for about 14 hours the day before.

Her experience doesn’t surprise Dr. Eugene Shifrin, an optometrist with Banner Health.

“That’s why I’m suggesting daily disposable,” he said. “Because I know this is happening.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 99 percent of the estimated 41 million Americans who wear contact lenses don’t wear or care for their lenses properly. That puts them at risk for severe eye infections.

Shifrin recommends rethinking how you take care of your contact lenses.

“Most of the problems occur when patients tend to abuse contact lenses, when they don’t take them out at night, when they don’t clean them properly,” he said.

That’s especially important for those living in dry climates like Arizona’s, Shifrin said.

“It’s as simple as taking care of your contacts case,” he said.

That includes dumping out the old contact lens solution and not using tap water to refill the contact lens case or to rinse lenses.

Pirkl said she’s now taking better care of her lenses.

“I wash my hands all the time now, and I clean my contacts before, during and after,” she said. “I’ll put drops in all the time. I’m, like, very careful about it now.”