Contact lens wear can change the bacteria in your eyes, according to a recent study. The study found that the surface of the eyes of people wearing contact lenses had three times more bacterial species, on average, compared with people who do not wear lenses.
In addition, scientists have found differences in the composition of bacterial communities on the surfaces of people's eyes. In people who wear contact lenses, this composition was more likely to include bacteria living on the eyelids when compared to those who do not wear lenses.
"Our research clearly shows that placing a foreign object, such as a contact lens, on the eye is not a neutral act, " said study author Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, a microbiologist at New York Langona Medical Center.
More research is needed to determine if these changes in ocular bacteria are due to the touch of the fingers to the eyes, or if the pressure of the contact lenses alters the eye's immune system in some way. The findings may shed light on an old problem: Why are contact lens wearers more prone to eye infections than lens wearers?
Since the introduction of soft contact lenses in the 1970s, there has been an increase in the number of corneal ulcers appearing on the clear coat of the eye, study co-author Dr. Jack Dodik notes.
One type of bacteria that can cause corneal ulcers is called Pseudomonas; it is more common in people who wear lenses, a study found. Because these bacteria can enter the eyes through the skin, people should practice good hand and eyelid hygiene to reduce the risk of corneal ulcers, Dodik said.
Millions of people wear contact lenses, and although most of these people have a “different” community of bacteria in their eyes, they don't notice any discomfort. However, if complications do appear, it is difficult to leave them unnoticed.
There are simple steps all contact lens wearers can take to prevent potential lens complications. "Wash your hands, change the solution every day, keep the lens cases clean." People who wear daytime lenses should change them daily and not wear the same lenses for several weeks.
It is also recommended that you visit an ophthalmologist regularly to assess your eye health. And if the lenses cause discomfort, you also need to consult a doctor.