Corneal Ulcers and Good Contact Lens Habits
What is a corneal ulcer?
A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea, the thin clear structure overlying the iris, which is the colored part of your eye.
What causes a corneal ulcer?
Most corneal ulcers are caused by infection. Corneal ulcers caused by bacterial infections are common in people who wear contact lens.
What are the symptoms of a corneal ulcer?
- Red eye
- Severe pain
- Feeling that something is in your eye (Foreign body sensation)
- Pus or thick discharge draining from your eye
- Blurry vision
- Pain when looking at bright lights (Photophobia)
- Swollen eyelids
- A white round spot on the cornea that is visible with the naked eye if the ulcer is very large
How dangerous are corneal ulcers?
Corneal ulcers are medical emergencies. It can cause blindness in as little as 24 hours.
How can I prevent corneal ulcers?
You can prevent corneal ulcers by practicing good habits for contact lens use and care.
Tips for Contact Lens Use
- Do not wear your contact lens for more than 8 hours at a stretch.
- Do not sleep with your lens on. Even short naps can be harmful.
- Do not swim with your lens.
- Do not use expired lens.
- Remove your lens immediately if you develop any of the symptoms listed above.
- Do not try to relieve your symptoms with eye drops. See a doctor immediately.
Tips for Contact Lens Care
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with a mild soap prior to handling you lenses. Special (hypo-allergenic) contact lens soaps are available from your optometrist. Always rinse your hands afterwards with clean water. Dry your hands with a lint-free towel.
- Get into the good habit of starting with your right lens first to avoid accidentally switching your lenses. Always check to see if your lens is inside-out before insertion.
- Only use the contact lens care solutions that your optometrist has recommended. Confusion and possible eye irritation can be avoided by staying with one manufacturer’s brand of lens care products. Always keep sufficient supplies on hand.
- In order to maintain optimum visual performance and eye\ health, you are urged to attend all recommended contact lens progress examinations.
- Clean, rinse and disinfect your lenses as recommended after each use. Except for disposable soft contacts, enzyme cleaning is recommended once a week.
- Always have an up-to-date pair of prescription glasses on hand to give your eyes a rest from contact lenses.
- Use “water-soluble” makeup only. Certain cosmetics can be a significant source of irritation. Your optometrist’s office maintains a supply of special hypo-allergenic water soluble cosmetics for your convenience and comfort. Use eye cosmetics sparingly.
- Your lens storage container should be thoroughly rinsed and cleaned with tap water or saline daily.
Success with contact lenses is highly dependent on… you!
Need more advice?
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About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.
About Dr. Tan