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Campaign aims to stamp out bad contact lens habits

With as little as a third of contact lens-wearing adults recalling any advice from their eyecare provider, a group of Australian optometrists is emphasising the importance of safety conversations with contact lens patients as the international eyecare community marks an annual health awareness campaign.

The UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science (SOVS) in collaboration with the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is promoting the 7th Contact Lens Health Week from 17 to 21 August this week.

This year’s campaign theme is ‘Road to 2020 vision begins with contact lens health’. It aims to emphasise the importance of healthy contact lens hygiene practices in protecting against serious eye infections and other illnesses.

Nicole Carnt.

After participating in the awareness campaign this week, the UNSW SOVS hopes to emulate a ‘Contact Lens Safety Down Under’ campaign just before the Australian summer this year.

A look back to a 1986 report on contact lens compliance has revealed there are many problems that still exist despite the evolving contact lens landscape. Despite efforts to educate patients about risks of bad habits, the CDC estimates 99% of contact lens wearers report at least one behaviour that increases their chances for a contact lens-related eye infection.

Based on findings reported in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, survey results indicated only a third of contact lens-wearing adults recalled hearing any lens wear and care recommendations from their eyecare provider.

UNSW Scientia research fellow and senior lecturer Dr Nicole Carnt has been involved in research engaging patients who suffered from contact lens related infection and leads a program promoting healthy contact lens wear.

The CDC campaign aims to educate the contact lens wearers about the risks of water-related corneal infections.

Her recent published study on the impact of a ‘No Water’ warning sticker on contact lens cases has shown that behaviours can be modified to improve contact lens safety. The ‘No Water’ stickers are available to source from the Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia.

In recent weeks, Carnt also published an article on The Conversation entitled ‘How to keep your contact lenses clean and what can go wrong if you don’t’. The piece garnered more than 26,000 views since being published on 7 August.

She has also welcomed two new Scientia PhD scholars optometrists Ms Adam Samuels and Ms Stephanie Yeo who will be working on behaviour change in contact lens compliance.

Carnt said she and her team are urging all optometrists to have safety conversations with their contact lens patients.

The CDC provides educational resources regarding good contact lens habits which are free for practitioners to access via this link. 

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‘No water’ stickers improves CL compliance