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Prolonged contact lens use leads to corneal issues for Bedford man

Kevin Musgrove, 27, has worn contacts for about 10 years but got into the habit of wearing them for too long, between 12 and 14 hours every day. Julia Wong/Global News

BEDFORD – Contact lenses can create a world of perfect vision for many Nova Scotians. But optometrists say improper care of your contacts can also create a world of problems.

Kevin Musgrove, 27, has worn contacts for about 10 years but got into the habit of wearing them for too long, between 12 and 14 hours every day.

Recently he noticed his vision was a little off.

“My vision wasn’t 100 percent but that was just me thinking, oh my prescription is getting worse,” he said.

But it was actually much more complicated than that.

“When Kevin first came to see me, his eyes were not happy,” said optometrist Erin Sheppard, who is also the past president of the Nova Scotia Association of Optometrists. “I could see they were chronically irritated. He actually had some issues with blood vessels going into the cornea.”

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The blood vessels were blocking his corneas, preventing his eyes from focusing. The over-wear severely irritated and infected his corneas, and it could have been even worse.

“There is a risk of the development or formation of an ulcer in the eye. That’s actually a break in the corneal surface,” Sheppard said, adding Musgrove could have lost his vision if he hadn’t gotten them checked out.

“You worry, am I going to lose my vision in 10 years? There’s a little bit of fear going through,” he said.

Sheppard says most contact lens users need to realize the huge risk they put their eyes in.

“If your lenses aren’t feeling like they used to, if you’re finding they get red as soon as you put them in, they get red by the end of the day or you have these gritty, tired and yucky feeling eyes then you should be [going to see an optometrist],” Sheppard said.

In Musgrove’s case, he stopped wearing his contacts and his corneas are now back to normal.

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“My vision became much clearer. You could see a big difference in the colour of my eyes, they became much clearer and much whiter,” he said.

There is no permanent damage to his eyes, something he is grateful for and a lesson he will no doubt remember for years to come.

“You want to keep healthy eyes so when you’re 60 to 70 years old, you can see your grandchildren,” Musgrove said.

Here are a couple more tips Sheppard has for contact lens users:

  • – clean your contacts everyday
  • – always use fresh solution
  • – don’t wear your contacts for longer than their shelf life: monthly contact lenses are only good for 30 days, not 30 wears
  • – don’t over-wear your contacts: give your eyes some time to breathe and wear your glasses

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