Contact lens is small glass disc, in the shape and size of the cornea, and when placed directly over the eyeball, it functions as a spectacle, and thus corrects the vision. The interesting fact about contact lens is that the idea was first conceived by Leonardo da Vinci in 1508, in Codex of the Eye, Manual D. The first corneal lens was developed in 1949, and today after nearly 70 decades is available in different features that suit the user according to their myopic condition. Contact lens is used for therapeutic as well as cosmetic purposes, and a recent study in 2010 showed that there are 125 million contact lens users in the world.
A Shocking Revelation about Contact Lens from a Recent Study
There is no doubt about the fact that the invention of contact lens has come as a blessing for many. However, it has also been noted that contact lens users are more prone to eye infections. A recent study shows that contact lens may not be a revolution that it has seemed to be, but in fact a cause for revulsion. These magical discs may be causing more harm than good to the human eye, the study shows, by changing the community of bacteria living in the human eye.
Study author Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, a microbiologist at New York University School of Medicine says, “Our research clearly shows that putting a foreign object, such as a contact lens, on the eye is not a neutral act,” i.e. contact lens does have an adverse effect on the human eye through constant usage. The study conducted in NYU, shows the following:
1. It is important to know that the normal healthy human eye is also home to micro biome and its function remains unknown. A dozen bacteria genera dominate the eye’s conjunctiva, a third of which cannot be classified.
2. Whether the bacteria living on the surface of the eye are permanent residents or transient colonisers is not yet known, and studies are being conducted to reveal the same.
3. The colony of certain species of bacteria on the surface of the eye was three times more in people who use contact lens vis-à-vis those who do not.
4. The composition of these bacterial colonies is different in contact lens users, and is more aggressive.
5. The bacterial formation in the eye of contact lens users resembles the bacteria on the individual’s eyelid.
6. Studies are now being conducted to find whether the change in the structure of the bacteria in the eye is caused due to the finger touching the eye, or whether the pressure of the contact lens on the eyeball is altering immune system of the eye.
7. Lactobacillus, Acinetobacter, Methyl bacterium, and Pseudomonas are the four species of bacteria present in the human eye, and it has been found that contact lens users have a higher number of these species. These bacteria are the cause of a variety of eye infections in the contact lens users.
8. The bacteria Pseudomonas are known to cause corneal ulcers. Corneal ulcers are sores on the transparent covering of the human eye. This bacterium can be found in abundance in contact lens users, and this may be the reason why there has been a marked increase in the prevalence of corneal ulcer since the introduction of lens in 1970.
9. Millions of people wear contact lens and though they do have an altered bacterial community, not all of them experience complications related to wearing lenses. However, when they do face a complication, it is severe in nature and may cause permanent damage to the individual’s eyesight.
10. Ophthalmologists advice the contact lens user to maintain proper hygiene codes to avoid complications. This includes renewal of the contact lens at regular intervals. For e.g. the daily disposable lens users must not wear the same lens for more than the specified period. The yearly disposable lens should be replaced a few weeks before the year is over.
While studies are still being conducted, here are a few safety tips that one should follow to avoid eye infections:
1. Hygiene is the mantra for contact lens usage. Make sure that the lens and the lens case are clean, and disinfected at regular intervals.
2. Replace the lens solution in the case after every use.
3. It is important to rub the lens with the solution, to cleanse them of all impurities.
4. Follow the directions of the ophthalmologist and replace the lens at regular intervals.
5. Remember that if something does not feel right, then it most probably is not. In case of any discomfort or irritation while using the contact lens, remove it, and consult an ophthalmologist immediately.
The scientists are trying to analyze the ocular micro biomes of people using contact lens, who’ve have been suffering from infections to see if they have higher concentrations of the four known bacteria. Scientists say people who have been using contact lens for many years have their bodies adjusted to the new normal. Now whether the lenses predispose them or protect them is yet to be seen. While the studies are being conducted, and decisions as to the safety of using contact lens is being taken, it is only right that all the contact lens users follow the basic safety precautions, and if possible try to use them lesser than before.