June 7, 2019 12:58 pm
Updated: June 8, 2019 6:23 pm

After almost losing her vision, woman urges contact lens users to be more alert

Why are contact lens wearers at risk for eye damage?

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A Beverly Hills, California, woman is reminding contact lens users how important it is to keep eye health a priority. 

Speaking with Today.com, NFL Network reporter Taylor Bisciotti said after years of being misdiagnosed for pink eye, turns out her condition was way worse.

Bisciotti suffered from pink eye for years, but in 2017, she found out it was actually an ulcer on the cornea of one of her eyes.

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“It was really scary. I still worry about it constantly,” she continued.

READ MORE: Woman had a contact lens stuck in her eye for 28 years

She added that over the years, her eyes would become bloodshot, swollen or have puss. She would get treatment, but the symptoms would happen again — she always thought she was suffering from pink eye.

Doctors added if left untreated, she ran into the risk of losing vision in her eye.

The 27-year-old started to note some of her habits with her contact lenses. Turns out, at times, Bisciotti would sleep with them or not clean them as well as she should have.

Now, with her story, she is inspiring others to not only get their symptoms checked but to properly use contacts as well.

What do red eyes mean?

Dr. Charlotte Wedge, member of the board for the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, told Global News that eye redness can be caused by many things, including dryness, irritation, allergies and fatigue.

“You should see a doctor if the redness is uncommon for you, does not resolve as usual with such simple methods as tears and warm compresses,” she said. [Also if it] is painful or associated with discharge and crusting, the vision is affected, or if you are a contact lens wearer with a new onset red eye.”

Credit: Getty Images

Dr. Carol Doman of the Eyes on Optometry Group based in Nova Scotia told Global News that allergies in particular cause red and itchy eyes.

“But if you are experiencing other symptoms such as pain or sensitivity to light, you should see an optometrist (OD) right away,” she said.

She said sometimes, people may go straight to their family doctor who may not have the right tools to examine the eye.

“They don’t have the equipment to really examine your eye to see the exact cause of the problem and can lead to a misdiagnosis,” she said. “We use an instrument called a slit lamp that allows us to get a magnified view of the eye and cornea.”

READ MORE: Doctors find ‘blue mass’ of 27 missing contact lenses in woman’s eye

Wedge said corneal ulcers occur when the surface of the cornea — the window of the eye — breaks down and bacteria or other organisms cause an infection.

“They usually require strong antibiotic drops and can heal with scarring which results in permanently decreased vision,” she explained. “Severe ulcers may be associated with contact lens wear and can be difficult to treat.”

She added sleeping with contact lenses increases the risk of developing corneal ulceration.

Doman added (like Bisciotti) they can leave a scar on your cornea. “If this scar is over your pupil, it could cause long-term damage that will lead to decreased vision in that eye.”

Wedge said pink eye is a very general term for conjunctivitis that can be viral, bacterial or allergic.

“Examination by an ophthalmologist, with specialized equipment, is required to determine the exact cause and recurrence should be investigated, especially if contact lens-related.”

Doman added pink eye is not chronic.

“True pink eye or conjunctivitis will be self-limiting on its own and resolve in 10 to 14 days,” she said. “Allergies can cause allergic conjunctivitis that can be chronic, depending on the allergy. In general, if you have pink eye that is not resolving after a week, it should be examined more closely as it is likely something else.

General rules for contact lenses

Both experts agree a general rule of thumb is being extra careful when it comes to contact lenses.

“Be properly fit with contacts from your optometrist or a licenced contact lens fitter,” Doman said. “Replace your contacts as recommended by the manufacturer: daily, bi-weekly, monthly,” she continued.

She added to clean your contact lenses properly, don’t sleep with them and don’t buy them online without a proper prescription.

READ MORE: Rare infection that can cause blindness spikes in U.K. contact lens users

“Don’t wear cosmetic contacts (Halloween) without being properly fit,” she said.

Wedge added, do not use tap water or saliva to ever clean or moisten contact lenses.

“See your optometrist if you have any problems — especially blurred vision, red eyes, sensitivity to light and pain,” Doman said.

arti.patel@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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