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Man loses sight after sleeping with contact lenses—experts warn of irreversible damage


Chad Groeschen from Cincinnati lost his vision after using “Night and Day” contact lenses, which claim users can sleep in them. He woke up with severe eye pain and reduced sight due to a harmful infection, likely from wearing the lenses for multiple nights.

Chad who is now in need of a cornea transplant, is urging others to practice strict hygiene with contact lenses. He emphasizes the importance of taking out lenses before sleeping or showering to prevent similar health issues.

In 2015, Chad Groeschen experienced severe pain and cloudy vision in his left eye. Initially, he thought it was just allergies causing itchiness, but the situation worsened. He used “Night and Day” contact lenses, believing he could wear them continuously for 30 days. He shared with USA Today that he removed them about once a week, thinking less handling would be better for his eyes.

Man loses sight after sleeping with contact lenses—experts warn of irreversible damage
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Using the lenses continuously didn’t work out well for Chad Groeschen. Although such lenses are promoted for “continuous wear” for several weeks, a 2013 study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology highlighted that sleeping in any contact lens raises the risk of corneal infections. Groeschen, who was 39 at the time, found out he had a corneal ulcer infected by Pseudomonas bacteria. Doctors believed this infection came from sleeping with his extended-wear lenses. They explained to him that the lens trapped the bacteria, acting like a breeding ground, which then harmed his eye.

In just a few days, Groeschen, who worked as a sculptor for a renovation company, lost vision in his left eye. He learned he might need a corneal transplant to regain his sight. Moreover, a study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that many of the estimated 41 million contact lens users in the U.S. engage in at least one behavior that jeopardizes their eye health.

According to that study, 82.3% of individuals wore their contact lenses longer than advised. Over half just refilled their solution instead of replacing it, and 50% slept with their lenses in. CDC Medical Epidemiologist, Jennifer Cope, M.D., M.P.H., emphasized the significance of proper contact lens care for overall well-being and independence. She expressed concern that many users don’t understand the correct way to handle and maintain their contact lenses.

Many are taking risks with their eyewear, leading to infections that can cause lasting harm. The CDC states that annually, about one in every 500 contact lens wearers gets a severe eye infection that could cause blindness. Recently, in December 2022, 22-year-old Mike Krumholz faced a possible permanent blindness after he napped for 40 minutes wearing his daily disposable contacts. He then took a shower and only removed the lenses before sleeping.

The following day, Krumholz experienced itchiness and a “gunky” sensation in his eye, which was also sensitive to light. Initially, just like Groeschen, Krumholz thought he was suffering from allergies. However, the diagnosis was much more severe. Doctors informed the Florida baseball player that he had contracted a rare parasitic infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis, known to cause blindness. Krumholz learned that even brief periods of sleeping with contacts could have let the tiny Acanthamoeba parasite infect his cornea.

Mike Krumholz took to Facebook to share his experience and warn others of the dangers of sleeping with contacts. He expressed the unbearable pain he felt, noting, “Even the strongest medicines do nothing.” At just 21, he faced uncertainty about regaining vision in his affected eye. Krumholz revealed that he’s been confined indoors for over a month, even putting up hurricane shutters to shield himself from light.

After being treated for the parasitic infection, Krumholz was informed that, in the “best case” scenario, he might be cleared of the parasite by late summer 2023. Only then could he undergo a corneal transplant to remove the infected part of his eye.

Mike Krumholz expressed his uncertainty about the future of his vision, stating, “I know that I’m never gonna see fully again, but I don’t know how much of my vision I’m gonna get back.”

According to the CDC, here are some essential tips to prevent eye infections:

  1. Always wash hands with soap and water and dry them thoroughly before handling contact lenses.
  2. Remove contacts before going to sleep, taking a shower, or swimming.
  3. Whenever you take out the lenses, rub and rinse them using a disinfecting solution.
  4. Clean the lens case by rubbing and rinsing it with contact lens solution. Afterwards, dry it with a clean tissue and store it upside down with the caps off.
  5. Change your contact lens case every three months.
  6. Don’t mix old solution with new in the lens case – avoid “topping off.”
  7. Always carry a spare pair of glasses, so you can take out your contacts if needed.

Koerschner advises: “If anything happens to your eye seek a specialist immediately and maintain impeccable hygiene when it comes to your eyes.”

It’s crucial to prioritize eye hygiene. It might seem like an extra step sometimes, but ensuring your eyes’ health is absolutely worth the time and effort.

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