Teenagers are not necessarily known for being the cleanest of age groups. According to the CDC, those less than hygienic habits are becoming a big problem when it comes to properly handling contact lenses. As a result, adolescents are putting their eyes at risk for serious infection, and worse.
If your kids have contacts and are caring for them perfectly, they are in a very small minority.
Eighty-five percent of contact lens wearers between ages 12 and 17 said they have at least one habit that increases the chance of an eye infection, according to a report published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report today.
It didn't get much better among young adults between 18 and 24, more than 80% of whom reported at least one bad habit. Clearly, starting good habits early matters and is easier than breaking bad habits.
Contact Lens Health Week starts August 22nd and is a great time to talk with kids about good habits and the importance of proper care. When cared for properly, contacts are awesome. Kids may need reminders, however, on what constitutes proper care.
Things the CDC says kids should NOT do with contacts:
- Sleep in them, which increases the chance of an eye infection by 6 to 8 times;
- Swim or shower while wearing them;
- Not replace them as often as recommended by their eye care professional; and
- Failing to regularly replace storage cases. (Seriously, those cases get nasty.)
How kids should be handling their contacts, according to the CDC:
- Wash your hand before handling your contacts
- Take them out before falling asleep, even for a nap;
- Remove them prior to swimming so nasty germs don't get transmitted from the water to eyes;
- Get a new case with some regularity;
- See the eye doctor annually and when getting new contacts when the doctor says it's time to do so; and
- Don't use tap water to clean them.
If your kids think this isn't a big issue, have them watch this 3 minute video in which an Alabama football player explains the mistakes he made with his contacts. He got Acanthamoeba keratitis and now has a scar in his eye that makes it difficult to see and will eventually need to have a major eye procedure to correct his vision, something he says was "100% avoidable."
This infographic is also helpful and phrased in a way that teens are likely to understand and remember:
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