Contact lens wearers have increased eye bacteria
Many people are squeamish about their eyes, but when you wear contact lenses you get over that pretty quickly. After all, if you want to forgo glasses you have no choice but to get used to touching your eyeball on a regular basis.
When you are first prescribed contacts you're given a strict set of rules about caring for them. You should always wash your hands before putting them in or removing them, never store them in tap water, take them out after eight hours and never wear them for longer than their shelf life (whether that's a month or a day).
All of this is designed to ensure your eyes stay healthy, but new research has suggested this could be difficult. A team from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York has suggested using lenses can mean bugs are transferred to the eye, which leads to infections.
The study saw the eyes of contact lens wearers swabbed and the results compared to people who didn't need them. Three times the amount of several bugs were found on the eyeballs of those who used lenses, with the amount in their eyes more like that found on the skin.
"Our research clearly shows that putting a foreign object, such as a contact lens, on the eye is not a neutral act," lead scientist Dr Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello explained at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in New Orleans.
"These findings should help scientists better understand the long-standing problem of why contact-lens wearers are more prone to eye infections than non-lens wearers."
More research is planned to find out exactly what this means. In particular the team want to know whether it's caused by putting fingers in the eye, or if the actual lenses have an impact on the immune system.
It's suggested that cleanliness is of optimum importance when handling lenses, so users must wash their hands before putting them near the eye.