Adolescent Contact Lens Wearers Report Habits Causing Infections

On August 17, 2017, the CDC published a report that found more than 6 in 7 adolescents (85 percent) who wear contact lenses report at least one habit that increases the chance of an eye infection. Eye infections can lead to serious problems, including blindness. All contact lens wearers can help prevent serious eye infections by correctly wearing and caring for their contact lenses.


These are the first CDC data on the wear and care habits of the estimated 3 million U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 17 years who use contact lenses.


“Contact lenses are a safe and effective way to correct your vision when they are worn and cared for as recommended,” said Jennifer Cope, M.D., M.P.H., medical epidemiologist in the CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch. “However, adolescents and adults can improve the way they take care of their contact lenses to reduce their risk of serious eye infections.”


The new CDC report found most people are taking risks in the way they take care of their contact lenses. Eighty-five percent of adolescents (ages 12-17), 81 percent of young adults (ages 18-24), and 87 percent of adults (ages 25 and older) reported a habit that increases their chance of an eye infection and could threaten their vision. Adolescents most frequently reported not visiting an eye doctor at least once a year (44 percent), sleeping or napping while wearing lenses (30 percent), or swimming while wearing lenses (27 percent). The most frequently reported risky habits among young adults and adults were not replacing lenses as often as prescribed (52 and 45 percent, respectively), not regularly replacing storage cases (41 and 42 percent), sleeping while wearing lenses (33 and 33 percent), and swimming while wearing lenses (28 and 33 percent).


Wearing contact lenses can increase the wearer’s chances of getting a severe eye infection caused by germs commonly found in water. It is important for people who wear contact lenses to properly clean their lenses and regularly visit an eye care provider to keep their eyes healthy.


Contact lens wearers should replace contact lens cases regularly. Germs are more likely to get on cases when they are not replaced regularly. This leads to more complications and eye problems.


Contact lens wearers should not sleep or nap while wearing contact lenses. Sleeping in contact lenses increases the chance of an eye infection by 6 to 8 times.


Contact lens wearers should not swim or shower while wearing contact lenses. Contact lenses can carry germs from the water into the eye.


See the CDC Announcement


See the CDC Report


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