Contact lens wearers and their risky behaviors

Nearly all of the estimated 41 million contact lens wearers in the U.S. may be engaging in risky eye behaviors, according to a new study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a national survey of contact lens wearers and found that more than 99 percent of respondents were engaging in at least one risky behavior known to increase the risk of eye infections.

About 82 percent of respondents said they kept their contact lens cases for longer than recommended.

About 55 percent said they were guilty of “topping off” solution in the case – adding new solution to the existing solution instead of emptying the case out and adding new solution.

And 50 percent of wearers said they keep their lenses in while sleeping (Ouch!).

Each of those behaviors has been found to raise the risk of eye infections by five times or more, according to the CDC.

So it should be no surprise that nearly 33 percent of survey respondents reported going to the doctor for red or painful eyes related to wearing contact lenses.

“Good vision contributes to overall well-being and independence for people of all ages, so it’s important not to cut corners on healthy contact lens wear and care,” said Dr. Jennifer Cope, CDC medical epidemiologist, in a news release. “We are finding that many wearers are unclear about how to properly wear and care for contact lenses.”

Here are some tips for contact wearers to prevent eye infections, courtesy of the CDC:

  • Wash hands with soap and water and dry well before touching contact lenses.
  • Take contacts out before sleeping, showering or swimming.
  • Rub and rinse contacts in disinfecting solution each time they’re removed.
  • Rub and rinse the case with contact lens solution, dry with a clean tissue and store it upside down with the caps off after each use.
  • Replace contact lens cases at least once every three months.
  • Avoid “topping off” solution in lens case.
  • Carry a backup pair of glasses in case contact lenses have to be taken out.
Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

Scroll to top