Improper Contact Lens Use Causes Millions of Eye Infections

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Improper Contact Lens Use Causes Millions of Eye Infections
Improper Contact Lens Use Causes Millions of Eye Infections

(HealthDay News) -- Millions of Americans misuse contact lenses -- wearing them too long, not cleaning them properly -- and that causes almost a million cases of keratitis in the United States annually, according to research published in the Nov. 14 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

For the report, CDC researchers analyzed three national databases of outpatient care centers and emergency rooms. Their efforts created, for the first time, estimates of how much keratitis occurs in the United States. They estimated that each year there are some 930,000 visits to doctors' offices and outpatient clinics and 58,000 emergency room visits for eye infections.

More women than men saw their doctor for an eye infection (63.3 percent) and ended up going to the emergency room (54.7 percent), the researchers found. Keratitis affects all age groups, from teens to seniors, at about the same rate, the CDC team added.

The average doctor visit for the condition costs about $151 and the average emergency room visit costs $587, Jennifer Cope, M.D., M.P.H., a CDC medical epidemiologist, said during a news conference. In all, keratitis adds about $175 million to Americans' health bills each year, she said.

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