Are Contacts Ruining Our Eyes? Here’s What Eye Experts Say

Have you ever taken off your glasses (followed by a hair fluff) when you see a cute guy nearby, like Scarlett Johansson in "Scoop"? Lots of us would prefer not to have to wear glasses if we had the option.

By Anna Hugoboom2 min read
Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Maybe you went through that awkward stage in your tweens and early high school when you started wearing glasses (and hated them), then made up your mind to switch over to contacts. Sure, contacts are handy, but unfortunately, there are concerning risks to wearing contact lenses and some tricky potential side effects.

Contact lenses might be your preferred choice over glasses when you’re going to an event, a date, or even a sporty activity where you’d rather not bother with keeping plastic frames on your face. Some people even struggle with not having their full peripheral vision when wearing glasses and prefer contacts. But unless you actually have difficulty wearing glasses, it might be a better option for your eyes to keep your contact lenses for certain occasions and opt for comfy glasses that you like wearing the rest of the time. 

Let’s see what eye experts have to say on the subject.

Contacts Cons

It’s easy to scratch your eye when applying contacts, and the lens could easily trap dirt, sand, or other foreign particles, causing abrasions and damage to your cornea. Frequently touching our eyeballs and putting foreign objects into our eyes also can cause irritation (which is why our eyes will dry out and we need to apply eye drops), inflame eye nerves, and cause infections. These irritations and possible infections could cause burning and/or blurred vision, and even blindness in some rare cases. The FDA informs us that contact lenses can even cause eye infections and corneal ulcers. 

Additionally, contacts block oxygen from fully reaching your eyes, which can also make your eyes get dry, feel painful, and even have blurry vision. This is why using contacts can actually make your eyesight decline faster (though using them once in a while is not as harmful). Optometrist Troy Bendinghaus says those who already experience chronically dry eyes should definitely avoid wearing contact lenses due to the risk of corneal scarring and potential infection. 

Lenses could easily trap dirt, sand, or other foreign particles, causing abrasions and damage to your cornea.

Finally, plastic contains chemicals, including toxic BPAs, so those contacts that contain BPAs (which are most brands) can literally be leaching chemicals via your eye, especially when the contact lens gets thinner and worn out after repeated use.

Proper Use

If you do use contacts, maybe keep them for special occasions. Be sure to care for your lenses, wash your eyes after use, and don’t sleep with the lenses in. Some people claim they sleep with their contacts in all the time with no problem, but optometrist Patrick Vollmer cautions against sleeping in your contacts. He once treated a client who developed a pseudomonas ulcer after sleeping in their contact lenses, so consider yourself fairly warned! Clean your contacts daily and keep them moist in lens fluid. Don’t use them more times than the recommended amount (I used to sometimes recycle my dailies more than a couple times, which was not a good idea). 

Closing Thoughts

For regular daily vision and work, consider opting for a snazzy pair of glasses. They are much trendier and cooler than they used to be. Plenty of actors and celebrities wear glasses, and most people will say a good pair of glasses can make a woman look smarter. For example, take Elle Woods, who shows up to class in glasses when she wants to be taken seriously in law school!

If you don’t have a pair you like, then it’s time to treat yourself to some new glasses that you feel confident and beautiful wearing! It’s not like you can’t ever wear contacts; just remember to use them properly when you do. 

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