Do your contact lenses raise your risk of a serious eye fungus infection?

Serious infections can lead to corneal transplant surgery

DETROIT - Are your contact lenses raising your risk of suffering a serious eye infection?

Experts warn that the lenses you choose and the way you care for them can have a huge impact on your vision.

More than 40 million people wear contact lenses, but a lot of users have no idea that that they're putting themselves at risk for sight-robbing fungal infections.

Window shopping was nearly impossible for Lisa Stone not long ago.

"It was stabbing, debilitating pain," Stone said. "I was literally in my house in a dark room just in agony, truly in agony."

A rare fungus had grown in her eye.

"The fungus can actually penetrate into the cornea and also into the eye itself, and if it's not treated appropriately, then you could lose your vision or even lose the eye," Stone said. 

The CDC said nearly one in five contact lens-related eye infections damage the eye.

Symptoms include blurry vision, eye redness or pain, tearing or discharge, increased sensitivity to light and a sensation of having something in the eye.

Dr. Herbert Knauf urged patients to stick to hard contact lenses or soft daily disposable lenses. He said users shouldn't wear contacts if they're going to be around plants or animals for a long time.

"It's a very serious infection," Knauf said. "In many cases, even if treated appropriately, there's a need for corneal transplant on an urgent basis to save someone's eyesight."

Stone needed a corneal transplant. She also later had LASIK surgery, so her days of wearing contacts are over.

"Just do the daily wear and take them out at night and give your eyes a break," Stone said.

Reusing or topping off contact lens solution, sleeping in lenses and showering or swimming in lenses can also raise the risk of a fungal infection.

If you experience any of the symptoms, see an eye doctor.

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