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Experts at the Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute cautioned that wearing contacts for too long could “damage” the eyes. Notably, contacts create a barrier around the cornea, which prevents fluids from reaching the eyes. Moreover, wearing contacts for extended periods of time could cut off the eye’s supply to oxygen.
“Because your eyes are getting less oxygen, they will try to grow new blood vessels in an effort to increase the flow of oxygen,” the experts cautioned.
“These extra blood vessels prevent light from traveling through the cornea, which will ultimately cause vision damage.”
Medically referred to as corneal neovascularisation, the long-term effects can be “serious and irreversible”.
Coroneal neovascularisation is not the only potential consequence of wearing drying eye contacts.
For instance, conjunctivitis could develop, which is where the soft membrane that covers the whites of the eyes becomes inflamed.
The NHS pointed out that conjunctivitis can lead to: red, burning, gritty, itchy and watery eyes.
The eyes may also produce pus that sticks to the lashes, which means the condition is contagious.
“Do not wear contact lenses until your eyes are better,” the NHS instructed.
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To treat the eye condition, it’s advised to “boil water”, letting it cool, before gently wiping the eyelashes to clean off the crust with a clean cotton wool pad.
In order to help clear the infection, do wipe each eye with its own cotton pad.
The experts also highlighted the risk of developing keratitis if you prolong your exposure to contact lenses.
Similar to conjunctivitis, but only affecting the cornea, the condition can lead to discomfort and itching of the eyes.
However, keratitis may have “more harmful effects” by causing internal damage to the eye; left untreated, keratitis can lead to partial vision loss.
Experts at Moorfield’s Eye Hospital warned the condition could be “very painful”.
If you identify with any persistent or severe symptoms, book an appointment with your optometrist as soon as possible.
Even without troublesome symptoms it’s important to keep up with your eye health by making eye appointments every two years.
Make sure to follow the guidance set out by your optometrist when it comes to wearing eye contacts.
For example, if your contacts are for daily use, do not sleep in them – or reapply the same pair on another day.
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