A new study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) found that the overwhelming majority of contact lens wearers admit to engaging in at least one hygiene habit that may put them at risk for an eye infection. The data has been released in conjunction with the second annual Contact Lens Health Week, to be held August 24–28, 2015.

To estimate the prevalence of contact lens hygiene-related risk behaviors, an adapted version of the Contact Lens Risk Survey was administered to 4,269 adults aged ≥18 as part of the Porter Novelli 2014 summer ConsumerStyles survey. Using the population-based survey, it is estimated that 40.9 million (16.9%) of adults in the United States wear contact lenses and 93% of those reported wearing soft contact lenses. Contact lens wearers were more likely to be younger, female, more educated, and of white, non-Hispanic race/ethnicity compared with non-contact lens wearers. Wearers of soft, daily disposable and overnight contact lenses were significantly younger.

The survey determined the following reported hygiene habits among the participating adults:

  • Sleeping overnight in contact lens (ever): 50.2%
  • Napping in contact lens (ever): 87.1%
  • Topping off solution (adding new solution to the existing solution instead of emptying the case out fully before adding new solution) (ever): 55.1%
  • Replacing lenses at interval longer than recommended or when problem: 49.9%
  • Replacing contact lens case at interval longer than recommended: 82.3%
  • Not using contact lens case: 8.9%
  • Storing lenses in tap water (ever): 16.8%
  • Rinsing lenses in tap water (ever): 35.5%
  • Showering in contact lens (ever): 84.9%
  • Swimming in contact lens (ever): 61.0%
  • Infrequently or never washing hands before inserting lenses: 3.7%
  • Infrequently or never washing hands before removing lenses: 13.3%