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Potential Dangers of Contact Lenses
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on May 08, 2006
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported late last week that there has been a 19 percent increase in the number of people who have picked up a dangerous eye infection, a condition called Fesarium keratitis.
This outbreak of Fesarium keratitis, first in Singapore and now in Europe, is thought to be related to one or more contact lens cleaning products produced by the eye care company, Bausch & Lomb.
Bausch & Lomb actually halted shipments of one of their products, called MoistureLoc, to east Asia more than three months ago after an outbreak of Fesarium keratitis was reported in Singapore.
A similar outbreak was reported more than a year ago in Hong Kong, at which time 40 percent of those who acquired Fesarium keratitis reported using MoistureLoc.
Thus far, more than 200 confirmed or suspected cases of Fesarium keratitis have been reported. Eight of these people have had cornea transplants.
Fesarium keratitis can actually cause blindness and/or significant scar tissue formation if it is not caught in time and properly treated.
In a video message on the Bausch & Lomb web site, chief executive officer Ron Zarrella reports that they are working closely with health officials to identify the source of this outbreak.
If you wear contact lenses, I strongly encourage you to avoid all Bausch & Lomb cleaning products until they are able to identify the source of this outbreak.
I also encourage you to consider not wearing contact lenses at all. The cornea (whites) of your eyes are innervated by the trigeminal nerve, a cranial nerve that sends a signal to your brain whenever the slightest amount of pressure is applied to the cornea. When your brain receives this signal, it sends a message out to your eyelids via a different cranial nerve, called your facial nerve, telling them to drop down to protect your eyes.
This loop of electrical activity occurs within milliseconds and is called your corneal reflex. It's what causes your eyelids to instinctively whip down when an insect comes flying toward your eyes out of nowhere, or whenever you are suddenly surprised by any object that you feel will hit your eyes.
Put another way, your corneal reflex exists to protect your eyes against damage that can be caused by direct physical trauma to your eyes. And whenever you put contact lenses on your eyes, you are teaching your body to ignore your corneal reflex.
Does your corneal reflex weaken over time with repeated use of contact lenses? Does a diminished corneal reflex lead to a decrease in eye and overall health over the long term?
No one has definitive answers to these questions. But in my mind, it's never wise to engage in any activities that go against our natural design. And having our eyes learn to accept contact lenses most definitely goes against the corneal reflex that all of us are born with.
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