An ophthalmologist posted on Facebook to share shocking images of what can happen if a person leaves their contact lenses in while they are sleeping. His intention was to warn people of the dangers – including the risk of infection and cornea damage – by showing what happened to a woman who regularly slept without taking out her contacts.
The images were shared by Dr. Patrick Vollmer from Vita Eye Clinic in Shelby, North Carolina. He posted the pictures on Facebook, and the post was viewed over 30 million times in just three days.
The woman who was the subject in the photos was suffering from a “cultured pseudomonas ulcer,” according to a report by the Daily Mail. Bacteria were eating away at her cornea, and puss oozed from her eyes. Vollmer stated that the condition was “the direct result of sleeping in contact lenses.”
“Pseudomonas (bacteria) is an important cause of ocular morbidity and its opportunistic characteristics quickly lead to permanent blindness. This will be the 4th case of cultured pseudomonas that I’ve treated in my clinic,” said Vollmer.
“The bacteria explosively eats away at the patients cornea in a matter of days leaving a soupy, white necrosis (dead tissue) in its wake.”
Vollmer started the woman on antibiotic drops to fight the infection and steroids to battle scarring. However, he believes it is “very likely” that the patient will suffer some degree of permanent vision loss.
“To be very clear, I don’t ever recommend sleeping in any brand of SOFT contact lenses. The risks outweigh the benefits every time. It takes seconds to remove your contacts but a potential lifetime of irreversible damage if you choose to leave them in,” said Vollmer.
“People need to see these images and remind themselves/family/friends to also be aware of contact lens misuse.”
Approximately 45 million Americans wear contact lenses, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Pseudomonas is not the only potential problem a contact lens wearer may encounter. Keratitis – the inflation of the cornea – is also a possibility. About one in every 500 wearers each year end up with serious infections.