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CDC: Americans with contacts risk infections

Messenger-Inquirer - 8/22/2017

Aug. 22--A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the majority of Americans who use contacts across all age groups report at least one hygiene risk behavior contributing to eye infections.

The study used surveys and data from youngsters (12 to 17), young adults (18-24) and older adults (25 and older) to determine which of eight risk behaviors of contact wear they engaged in, including sleeping in contacts, stretching the use of contacts beyond the recommended time and completing routine checkups with an eye care provider.

Collected data showed more than 80 percent of each demographic reported at least one risky behavior with adolescents and older adults reporting higher rates at 85 and 88 percent respectively.

Dr. Murray Adams, an optometrist with Advantage Eye Care, said he directs his patients on guidelines at every visit, but sometimes it can take more than a warning to break through.

"Most people find that after an infection scare, they don't break the guidelines again," Adams said. "At the end of the day, everyone has to recognize your most important sense is sight."

Adams said he sees patients of all ages from the very young to the elderly. In his experience, younger people usually come to his practice complaining of eye infections.

In 2016, an estimated 3.6 million children, 7.5 million young adults, and 33.9 million older adults in the United States wore contact lenses.

According to the study, children were least likely to sleep in their contacts compared to young adults and older adults, but almost 44 percent of them reported going longer than their annual checkups with an optometrist.

More than 40 percent of young and older adults were reported to not replace their contact cases regularly, a behavior highlighted in the study summary as contributing to higher risk of infection.

The CDC study suggested medical professionals and organizations use similar messaging as other health issues such as smoking or obesity in order to inform Americans about the high potential for ocular impairments and blindness.

Adams said patients often try to stretch the use of their contacts and cases to save money or time at a doctor's office, but those behaviors can cost more than a few dollars or hours.

"Contacts are a medical device and they have more risk than glasses," Adams said "You are accepting a risk when you insert that plastic lens over your eye, which means you need to treat it responsibly."

Jacob Dick, 270-228-2837, jdick@messenger-inquirer.com,Twitter: @jdickjournalism

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(c)2017 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.)

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