Maybe now you’ll start listening to your eye doctor’s advice
The #1 worst thing that can happen to your eyes when you take out your lens
Besides the excruciating pain, an eye injury like that can cause total loss of vision and can even require a corneal transplant.
We’ve all had days where we’ve left our contact lenses in for 10, 12, or even 24 hours. We’re human, after all.
Unfortunately, that can lead to major issues.
According to The Mirror, 23-year-old Meabh McHugh-Hill ripped off her cornea—yep, the surface of her eyeball—when she removed her contacts after having them in for 10 hours.
“I suffered a week of unbearable pain,” McHugh-Hill told The Mirror. Luckily, she said her vision is okay, but she still has eye sensitivity. Here’s what her eye looked like: So how the heck did she do it?
“This is a pretty rare occurrence, so when it does happen, it’s due to user error, to put it gently,” says Niket Sonpal, M.D., assistant clinical professor at Touro Osteopathic College Of Medicine in New York.
Here’s the deal: Over the course of wearing your contacts for hours, a few things happen. Protein deposits build up on your lens, your eye gets a reduced supply of oxygen, and the surface of the eye starts to dry out.
As your eye gets drier, your contact lens is more likely to get “glued” to the surface of your eye, as was the case with McHugh-Hill. If the lens is stuck and you try to force it out like she did, you can do serious cornea damage.
So how do you prevent this kind of eye disaster?
Step one: Listen (for real) to your eye doctor when he or she tells you not to wear your lenses longer than the specified amount for your brand—usually between 8 and 12 hours.
Step two: If you’re prone to dry eyes, rehydrate with some contact solution or moisturizing drops throughout the day.
Step three: Don’t ever sleep in your contacts. Your eyes tend to dry up at night, so you’re more likely to wake up with a sticky situation.
And if your lens doesn’t come off when you try to remove it, stop right away and rehydrate it with contact solution or eye drops, says Dr. Sonpal.
“Wait a few minutes and let the eye create its own tears and then the lens will become soft again,” he says.
If it’s still stuck, don’t try to force it. Call your eye doctor and make an emergency appointment. He or she will help rehydrate the eye so that you can get the lens off without major damage.
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