October 10, 1995 in Nation/World

Disposable Contact Lenses Blamed For Variety Of Infections

Associated Press

Disposable contact lenses are causing thousands of serious eye infections each year despite manufacturers’ claims that they are safer than reusable lenses, researchers said Monday.

Overnight use of contact lenses has been known to be associated with an increased risk of infections, the worst of which can lead to blindness.

Disposable lenses were introduced with the idea that they would reduce the opportunities for bacterial contamination, because they wouldn’t be handled as much and wouldn’t be stored in solutions that could harbor germs.

“That idea was simple, easy and wrong,” said Dr. H. Dwight Cavanagh, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Speaking at a seminar sponsored by Research to Prevent Blindness, a volunteer organization that supports research, Cavanagh stressed that the risk of infections with any contact lens is small.

As many as 40 million people in the United States wear contact lenses, but lenses account for only about half the 27,000 corneal infections seen yearly in the country, he said.

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