Contact Lens Industry Research Will Have 40 Million Contact Lens Wearers Scrambling to Replace their Contact Lens Cases

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WatchDog Group, a leader in contact lens care and compliance strategy, is proud to supply contact lens wearers with critical information on contact lens case safety.

It may look clean but your contact lens case is growing bacteria and fungi that can't be stopped and could cause blindness. Doctors urge contact lens wearers to replace contact lens cases every month.

At least 70% of contact lens cases are contaminated from overuse. And shockingly, nearly 1 in 4 of contact lens wearers never replace their case.

It's the #1 mistake contact lens wearers make and they don't even know it.

Contact lens cases are designed to hold the chemical solution that contact lens wearers use nightly to fight germs, clean lenses, and remove irritating protein deposits.

It turns out that these seemingly clean washing machines are the most frequently contaminated items used by contact lens wearers, according to research published in Clinical and Experimental Optometry. (1)

So instead of cleaning lenses and making them safer to wear, they can, in fact, make contact lens wear more dangerous if not replaced frequently.

"Many assume that their case is safe, because it is used for disinfection of their contacts. And worse, it is safe because it simply looks clean," states John O'Hara of the WatchDog Group.

What's growing in there?

According to research published in Contact Lens Spectrum, contact lens cases are the perfect environment for bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens to thrive. Once contacts are dropped into a fresh new case, microbial biofilms begin to develop within one week. The dangerous pathogens undergo a series of transformations that allow them to live off one another. This transformed strain of bacteria becomes resistant to disinfection. Once they grow, they adhere to contact lenses and get transported onto the surface of the eye. (2)

So even if contact lens wearers carefully follow cleaning and rinsing instructions, the bacteria will still find a way to grow. Many contact lens wearers scrub their case in hot water or even wash their case in the dishwasher. These are dangerous practices that can actually be worse for eye health. According to the American Optometric Association, water should never touch contact lens cases. Water promotes the breeding ground for bacteria. Lens cases and caps should be cleaned with multi-purpose solution and air dried. (3)

Why haven't consumers known about contact lens case risks until now?

Contact lens care and compliance research intensified after 23 contact lens wearers went blind in 2006. Researchers from around the world started looking for better solutions to safe contact lens wear. An article published in Contact lens Spectrum concluded that at least 70% of contact lens cases are contaminated from overuse. And shockingly, 23% (nearly 1 in 4) of contact lens wearers never replace their case. (4) The FDA met with industry leaders to discuss how to reduce the risks caused by contact lens products. Frequent replacement of contact lens cases was a major recommendation. The WatchDog Group is sharing this important research for consumer safety awareness.

Public awareness has started to build.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) states that most contact lens related eye complications including discomfort, infection, and even blindness can be traced back to dirty contact lens cases.

Industry leaders are beginning to speak out. “One of the most overlooked components of good contact lens care – and essential for maintaining good corneal health – is a clean, new contact lens case,” says Susan Gromacki, OD, MS, FAAO in Making a Case for Clean Cases. (5)

And eye doctors are now urging their patients to replace their case monthly or every time they replace their lenses (up to twice per month). The theory is: better safe than sorry.

Like most awareness campaigns, it's a matter of frequency. Contact lens wearers need to hear this important message from a variety of sources. Fortunately, a major research study published in Clinical and Experimental Optometry concluded that frequent case replacement is the one take away message that contact lens wearers will respond to and it has the greatest potential impact on their eye health. So, there is a great chance that contact lens wearers will respond to this message and enjoy safer, more comfortable contact lens wear. (6)

How should contact lens wearers protect themselves?

According to a research study titled Contact Lens Cases: The Missing Link in Contact Lens Safety, even the FDA’s advice to replace cases every 3 to 6 months is not supported through research. Most studies recommend contact lens cases be replaced every month or less. (7)

If a reminder is needed, follow the tip of many eye doctors and replace contact lens cases every time contact lenses are replaced, biweekly or monthly.

Contact lens cases are available in stores everywhere. Look for value packs that contain multiple cases especially if you have multiple contact lens wearers in your household. It is now common to see value priced 4-packs, 6-packs, and even 12-packs of cases. Remember that if extra cases are on hand, it is much more likely that they will be replaced with a fresh new case. And, look for cases that are recyclable.

Here is a great take away tip from one contact lens case manufacturer: "Remember - It's dirty after 30. Pitch so your eyes don't itch!"

About the WatchDog Group LC
Since 2006, the WatchDog Group has been a leader in lens care safety and compliance strategies with innovative products to help contact lens wearers stay healthy. For more information, visit lensalert.com.

1.    Yung, Boost, Cho, and Yap. The effect of a compliance enhancement strategy (self-review) on the level of lens care compliance and contamination of contact lenses and lens care accessories. Clinical and Experimental Optometry. May 2007.
2.    Castellano, O.D., Carmen. 10 Steps to Improving Contact Lens Compliance. Contact Lens Spectrum. March 2004.
3.    American Optometric Association. Do’s and Don’ts of Contact Lenses. http://www.aoa.org/x5235.xml.
4.    10 Steps to Improving Contact Lens Compliance. Contact Lens Spectrum. March 2004.
5.    Gromacki OD, MS, FAAO, Susan. Making a Case for Clean Cases. Contact Lens Spectrum. February 2006.
6.    The effect of a compliance enhancement strategy (self-review) on the level of lens care compliance and contamination of contact lenses and lens care accessories. Clinical and Experimental Optometry. May 2007.
7.    Contact Lens Cases: The Missing Link in Contact Lens Safety. Eye and Contact Lens. November 2010.

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John O'Hara