Contact Lens Infections Are Often Preventable With Proper Care Interview with:

Dr. Jennifer Cope MD, MPH Medical Epidemiologist CDC

Dr. Jennifer Cope

Dr. Jennifer Cope MD, MPH
Medical Epidemiologist
CDC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Approximately 41 million people in the United States wear contact lenses, a safe and effective form of vision correction if worn and cared for as directed. Contact lenses are medical devices that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Adverse events related to contact lenses are reported to FDA’s Medical Device Report (MDR) database.

During 2005–2015, a total of 1,075 Medical Device Reports describing contact lens–related corneal infections were reported to the FDA Medical Device Report database. Approximately 20% of these reports described a patient who suffered serious eye damage. More than 25% of the 1,075 reports described modifiable behaviors that might have put the patient at risk for a contact lens–related corneal infection, such as sleeping in lenses or wearing lenses longer than for the prescribed period. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Contact lens-related eye infections can lead to long-lasting damage but are often preventable. Even minor infections can be painful and disrupt day-to-day life. Contact lens wearers should take simple steps to prevent contact-lens related eye infections. For example:

1. Don’t sleep in contact lenses without discussing with your eye doctor.
2. Don’t top off, or add new contact lens solution to old solution that has been sitting in the case.
3. Replace your contact lenses as often as recommended by your eye doctor. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Continued efforts to educate contact lens wearers about prevention of contact lens–related eye infections are needed. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Prompt reporting of adverse events can help the FDA identify and understand health risks related to the use of contact lenses. Contact lens wearers can reduce their risk for contact lens–related infections by improving their hygiene behaviors, such as not sleeping in contact lenses unless prescribed and replacing their contact lenses as recommended. If patients or eye care providers suspect or experience a problem with contact lenses or their care products, they are encouraged to file a report through the FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting program. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Cope JR, Collier SA, Srinivasan K, et al. Contact Lens–Related Corneal Infections — United States, 2005–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:817–820. DOI:

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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