Safe to wear contact lenses, if proper care is taken

Safe to wear contact lenses, if proper care is taken

Contact lenses per se do not cause eye infections ("Coloured, corrective contact lenses a concern"; last Sunday).

Infections may be due to improper hygiene, non-compliance with the cleaning regimen, or lack of follow-up care. Infective organisms such as acanthamoeba are typically found in contaminated water.

If coloured contact lenses from non-reliable sources are a major cause of contact lens-related eye infections, then it would be prudent for the authorities such as the Health Sciences Authority to prohibit their sales on the Internet, or from any sources that bypass the opportunity for eye exams by an optometrist.

Contact lens industry sources estimate that there are 600,000 contact lens wearers in Singapore, and not 200,000 as previously stated.

This puts the incidence of contact lens-related infections at 0.06 per cent. This shows that, with appropriate measures in place, wearing contact lenses is safe and can be made safer.

The process of corneal reshaping with orthokeratology (Ortho-K) lenses is not a simplistic "squashing" of the cornea or "causing little breaks on the surface", but rather a gradual reshaping process due to the forces of the tear film under the lens. A properly fitted orthokeratology lens does not contact the cornea but sits on the tear film. At no time is the corneal surface meant to be broken.

Studies show that orthokeratology lenses are no riskier than other types of contact lenses worn overnight. However, one has to consider the merits of orthokeratology, that is, control of myopic progression.

High myopia is a potentially blinding condition. While there are other options, there is none that is risk-free. With orthokeratology, the benefits outweigh the risks.

I hope that with the involvement of the optometric community in this dialogue, the public will have a balanced view of the issue of contact lens use, and be mindful of the need for compliance.

Koh Liang Hwee (Dr)

President

Singapore Optometric Association


This article was first published on January 11, 2015.
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