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Patients Often Forget Contact Lens Safety Tips As Soon As They Hear Them, Study Suggests

The CDC reported on new findings.




A third of contact lens wearers don’t recall ever hearing any lens care recommendations from their eyecare providers, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s despite the fact that most eyecare providers reported sharing recommendations always or most of the time.

The CDC’s online public health survey of 4,088 participants focused on nine contact lens recommendations.

As the American Optometric Association notes in a blog post about the findings, patients recalled hearing about some recommendations more often than others. On their last visit:

  • 47.9 percent recalled their provider advising against sleeping in lenses
  • 46.9 percent recalled their provider advising hand hygiene when handling lenses
  • 41.6 percent recalled their provider advising replacing lenses as recommended
  • 23.8 percent recalled their provider advising a case replacement schedule
  • 21 percent recalled their provider advising against storing lenses in water
  • 19.8 percent recalled their provider advising against “topping off” solution or rinsing lenses in tap water
  • 12.4 percent recalled their provider advising against swimming in lenses
  • 8.3 percent recalled their provider advising against swimming in lenses

Patients overwhelmingly reported hearing all nine recommendations with an initial contact lens fitting, AOA reports.

To describe provider health communication practices, 1,100 randomly selected licensed, practicing eyecare providers were surveyed. The survey was piloted by members of the American Optometric Association’s Contact Lens and Corneal section.


ECPs reported sharing all nine recommendations regularly, but most frequently when patients present with a contact lens-related complication. Providers shared some recommendations more frequently than others during routine “check-ups,” including:

  • 85.1 percent advise replacing lenses as often as recommended
  • 79 percent advise replace lenses as recommended, and against sleeping in lenses
  • 70 percent advise against storing or rinsing lenses in water

“Previous studies have identified health behaviors that can reduce the risk for contact lens-associated eye infections,” according to the CDC. “Although eye care providers report mentioning these behaviors to their patients frequently, patients report hearing the messages less frequently, suggesting that new communication strategies might be needed.”

The results were published Aug. 15 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC estimates 99 percent of contact lens wearers report at least one behavior that increases their risk for a contact lens-related eye infection.

The AOA notes that the observed deficit in provider-patient communication isn’t an anomaly unique to eyecare. As much as 80 percent of the medical information patients are told during office visits is forgotten immediately, while nearly half of the information they do retain is altogether incorrect, studies show.


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