Wearing contact lenses can bring numerous benefits, providing clear vision without the need for traditional eyeglasses. However, misuse or overwear of contact lenses can lead to a condition known as contact lens-associated red eye (CLARE). This blog post will delve into what CLARE is, its causes, how it is treated, and the importance of proper contact lens habits and hygiene.
Understanding CLARE: A Red and Inflamed Eye
CLARE is a common complication associated with the misuse or overwear of contact lenses. It occurs when the eye becomes red and inflamed, although it is not actively infected. Two primary factors contribute to the development of CLARE: sleeping in contact lenses and wearing the lenses continuously for an extended period.
Treatment of CLARE: Seeking Professional Care
If you suspect you have CLARE, it is crucial to seek professional care from an eye doctor. They will examine your eyes to ensure there is no active infection or corneal damage. Treating CLARE typically involves a combination of interventions, including:
- Discontinuation of contact lens wear: Your eye doctor will likely instruct you to stop wearing your contact lenses until the redness and inflammation subside. This is to prevent further irritation and allow your eyes to heal.
- Prescription Eye Drops: Depending on the severity of CLARE, your eye doctor may prescribe eye drops to reduce redness, relieve inflammation, and promote healing. It is essential to follow their instructions regarding the dosage and frequency of the eye drops. These eye drops are often combination eye drops which include both a broad-spectrum antibiotic and a mild steroid. By using this combination drop, an infection is prevented and the inflammation is reduced.
- Education on Proper Contact Lens Habits and Hygiene: A critical aspect of managing CLARE is educating the patient about the likely causes and reviewing proper contact lens habits. This includes emphasizing the importance of not sleeping in contact lenses and adhering to the recommended wearing schedule. Proper hygiene practices, such as thorough handwashing before handling lenses and following appropriate lens cleaning instructions, should also be reinforced.
Preventing CLARE: Nurturing Healthy Contact Lens Habits
Preventing CLARE is achievable by adopting and maintaining healthy contact lens habits. Here are essential practices to consider:
- Follow the Recommended Wearing Schedule: Adhere to the recommended wearing schedule provided by your eye care professional. Avoid extended wear beyond the recommended time frame, especially when it comes to disposable or planned replacement lenses.
- Remove Lenses Before Sleeping: Make it a habit to remove your contact lenses before going to bed. Sleeping in contact lenses significantly increases the risk of developing CLARE and other eye complications.
- Practice Proper Lens Hygiene: Thoroughly clean and disinfect your lenses according to the instructions provided by your eye care professional. Never reuse or top off the solution in your contact lens case, and replace the case regularly to prevent bacterial buildup.
- Regular Eye Exams: Schedule regular eye exams with your eye care professional to monitor your eye health, ensure proper lens fit, and address any potential issues before they worsen.