70% of Contact Lens Cases are Contaminated and Nearly 1 in 4 are Never Replaced

A Serious Problem Eye Doctors Want Fixed, WatchDog Group Reports

New Contact Lens and Case Timer Solves Widespread Problem

There are over 38 million contact lens wearers in the U.S. and children are the fastest growing segment. The contact lens industry is enjoying great success, but there is danger growing under those lenses.

Danger in the form of hard to pronounce words like fusarium keratitis and acanthamoeba keratitis. These are nasty words that are causing eye health complications from minor eye infections to blindness. Thousands of patients will visit their doctors today, unnecessarily.

And the culprit? Up to 80% of all complications are traced back to poor patient compliance. More often than not, contact lens problems are simply caused by their owners’ lack of awareness of proper care techniques. Most contact lens wearers simply don’t know the basic rules. Basic rules like throwing away lens cases frequently. A frightening reality when the end result can cause blindness.

Frightening statistics

Contact lens cases need to be replaced at least every 3 months and monthly replacement is strongly recommended. Lens cases are hotbeds for dangerous bacteria and fungi. Yet over 70% of cases are contaminated from overuse and 23% (nearly 1 in 4) of all contact lens wearers never replace their lens case. Never! Also, over 60% of contact lenses are worn past their expiration date – a recipe for disaster.

These are unacceptable statistics. Contact lenses and lens cases are medical devices not fashion accessories, yet most patients get the impression that contact lenses are non-prescriptive and lens care is irrelevant.

The chair of the American Optometric Association, Paul Klein, O.D., recently wrote to the 36,000 professional members of the AOA:

Doctor, look in the mirror. When was the last time you told a patient that it was positively not OK to stretch the discard cycle of a two-week lens to three or four weeks? … When was the last time you interrogated your patients about their exact hygiene and lens care methods? When was the last time you insisted on lens case discard on a regular basis? … Unless and until we recognize our part in the problem, we should not be surprised at the absence of a solution.

But doctors can only do so much. The typical contact lens wearer only sees their doctor once a year during their annual exam and lens care is usually quickly forgotten.

In June 2008, the FDA stepped in and held a conference with industry leaders to discuss how to reduce the risk of infection caused by contact lens products. Major recommendations included: clear labeling of discard dates, frequent replacement of contact lens cases, and better communication of basic care instructions.

So what is the solution?

Contact lens and solution manufacturers need to wake up and solve basic dangers through effective communication. It is unacceptable to sell a medical device and have customers be so in the dark about basic care. Millions can reduce their risk today by replacing their dirty contact lens case. Millions can reduce their risk today by replacing their lenses on schedule. It shouldn’t be difficult to dramatically change frightening compliance statistics.

There are new products and services available to help lens wearers with their lens care. We like the LensAlert Contact Lens & Case Timer, sold by WatchDog Group, because it not only keeps track of your contact lens replacement schedule, it also lets you know when to replace your dangerous contact lens case. Simply set the timers and when the display flashes “0” it’s time for a change. Please visit www.lensalert.com for more information.


  • Castellano, O.D., Carmen. 10 Steps to Improving Contact Lens Compliance. Contact Lens Spectrum. March 2004
  • Klein, O.D., Paul. A Word from Our Chair. AOA Newsletter. February 2009
  • What You Need to Know About Contact Lens Hygiene and Compliance.¬† American Optometric Association
  • For additional references, please visit www.lensalert.com/about.html

Source: WatchDog Group LC

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3 Responses

  1. russell says:

    I’ve been wearing contacts since about 1994. I started using disposables/short-term contacts around 2000. Doctors have always told me I can sleep them in, but should take them out 1-3 times a week. I take mine out every night and clean using Clear Care. I can wear the same pair of contacts for up to 8 weeks without replacing and I have no problems until around week 7 or so when they start to dry out. My vision has actually improved over the past few years. Now what is it I’m supposed to be worried about?

  2. Bob says:

    “And the culprit? Up to 80% of all complications are traced back to poor patient compliance.”


    The real culprit is optometrists and their lobbyists. This greedy group paid-off lawmakers to pass a law forbidding the sale of replacement lenses without first paying a toll to the optometrist or ophthalmologist every year. So… young people who COULD afford to replace their lenses more often, but who cannot afford to waste $100 paying an “optometrist-tax” for an unwanted and unnecessary renewal on the prescription, simply continue wearing lenses beyond their expiration dates.

    Much of this problem can be laid directly at the feet of greedy optometrists and ophthalmologists. Shame on them. And shame on our worthless politicians who were paid off to pass this “optometrist tax”. By throwing up financial roadblocks to the frequent replacement of lenses, to enrich themselves, these professions are directly responsible for much of the problem.

  3. Rachel says:

    I absolutely agree with Bob, I for one am living proof. I didnt have the money to get a new eye exam/perscription. So i wore my 2 week contacts for 6 months…. I know, terrible isnt it? But when you dont have money for glasses either thats out of the equation. And if your perscription is -7.50(as in-cant see past your own nose) going with out isnt an option. I’ve got to hurry and get my glasses and extra contacts ordered before my perscription runs out… again! But I did not know about changing the lens case… I change mine once a year when the dr gives me the free one at my appointment. No eye infections here but i will keep it in mind.

    I was actually googling information for my boyfriend who keeps getting reoccuring eye infections every time he wears contacts, even if its for only 8 hours while he is at work. Brand new, out of the box contacts… new case(at my suggestion that the first one may have something wrong with it) but i he hasnt tried a new bottle of saline solution yet. We cant figure it out. He went to an “eye dr” twice for it. And is making another appointment tomorrow. I continue my search now ūüôā

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