Common sense tells you to wash your hands when you are doing anything involving your eyes. However, recent research suggests that it’s a bit more involved than that. If asked why one should wash their hands before putting contacts in, most people would probably say that it’s to avoid getting your contacts dirty which would then contaminate your eye.
That’s only half of the story, the big concern with is bacteria.
There are different populations of bacteria in different parts of your body. For instance, it’s a fundamental and necessary part of your digestive process. In fact it’s so critical that fecal matter transplant has recently become an important breakthrough in treating certain conditions. You also have certain types of bacteria on your skin and other types that live on your eye.
Science now tells us that when contact lens users develop problems it’s often because the bacterium from your skin ends up in your eye. Using contact lenses can change the bacteria cultures on your eye, which then makes it more prone to infection.
Researchers compared surface eye bacteria to the bacteria beneath the eyes of 58 adults, some of whom wore contacts and some of whom didn’t. The researchers discovered, that the surface of the eye was host to more bacteria than they found beneath the surface of the eye or on the skin.
In contact lens wearers, the bacteria on the eye included pseudomonas, acinetobacter, methylobacterium, and lactobacillus, strains which are not typically found in the eye. Whereas in the group which didn’t use contacts, these strains were typically found on the skin.
Therefore it was concluded that people are transferring bacteria to their eyes when they put their contacts in. This may lead to infections and discomfort.
Currently there are about 3 million contact lens users in the United Kingdom. Anything that the industry can do to eliminate discomfort will help to increase that number. Given the startling advances in contact lens technology, including WiFi, telescoping focus, smart lenses etc, getting to grips with the bacteria problem would bring great benefits to the contact lens industry and the wearer