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Study: Improper contact lens care is likely causing an uptick in eye infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a warning for all contact lens wearers: Take proper care of your lenses if you want to avoid getting an infection that can lead to blindness.

On Thursday, the CDC published a study in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that said every year, doctors and emergency rooms see close to 1 million cases of cornea infections. The cornea is the clear covering of the eye, and while most infections can be cleared up with antibiotics, there is a likelihood of permanent eye damage or blindness.

Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University, said it costs $175 million a year to treat keratitis in the United States. "I think we have badly underestimated the frequency of this problem," he told NPR. Researchers do not know exactly how many of the people who reported cornea infections wore contact lenses, but they do know that the risk of infection goes up in contact lens wearers.

Some friendly reminders on proper care of lenses: Clean and disinfect both the lenses and cases every day, and use new solution daily, too. Don't use your contacts while swimming or in the shower in order to keep bacteria away, and don't use them past the recommended time. Finally, make sure to take them off at night when you go to sleep, since lenses reduce the flow of oxygen to the eye.