In a study conducted in 2006, researchers at Oregon Health and Science University’s Casey Eye Institute, suggested it may be safer, in the long run, to have LASIK surgery than to wear contact lenses. Now, a new survey may explain why the conclusions of that study may, indeed, be correct.

Poor contact lens care habitsSynovate, Inc., a global market research company, recently asked 508 contact lens wearers a number of questions about how they care for their contact lenses, and the results were startling. All respondents were over age 18 and wore their lenses on a daily wear basis (removing them prior to sleep every day). The survey of contact lens wearers revealed:

* 40% do not wash their hands prior to handling their lenses.
* 20% do not use fresh solution when cleaning their lenses.
* 40% have put their lenses in their mouth to clean them.
* 70% wear their contact lenses when swimming.

These behaviors cause more bacteria and other harmful microorganisms to be transferred to the eyes, increasing the risk for serious eye infections. Couple these statistics with the fact that an estimated 38 million Americans wear contact lenses, and you have a huge number of people who are putting themselves at risk for sight-threatening eye infections.

In fact, according to the Casey Eye Institute study, over a 30-year period, the risk of a contact lens wearer experiencing significant vision loss due to a contact lens-related eye infection is 5 times greater than the risk a LASIK patient has of experiencing a similar vision loss due to a surgical complication.

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