Seniors And Contact Lenses: What You Should Know To Reduce The Risk Of Complications Such As Eye Infections
Pegasus home health care nurses in Calabasas and elsewhere assist individuals in numerous ways. Many of those they help have vision impairments. What do you need to know about seniors and contact lenses during your career as a home health care nurse?
Elderly individuals may be skipping their annual eye exams for one reason or another. Whether they are vision-impaired or not, start with encouraging them to schedule an exam. It’s a tangible way in which your care significantly improves their health.
Eye Exams Are Essential
An eye exam detects vision problems before they escalate. Corrective treatments can slow or perhaps stop further loss of vision. Additionally, patients learn good eye care practices.
Aside from evaluating vision, an eye exam reveals at least 20 potential health issues. That’s the first indication of some of those conditions. Your patients can receive an early diagnosis and medical treatment before disease threatens their quality of life.
Age doesn’t prevent wearing contact lenses. There’s a variety of lenses suitable for older adults. Technological advances have improved materials, choices, and comfort.
The eye doctor who prescribes contact lenses teaches individuals how to wear them. They learn correct insertion and removal techniques. Individuals are also taught care, cleaning, and hygiene practices.
Following Care Instructions Helps Prevent Eye Infections
Despite that, statistics show that:
- Annually, one out of every 500 contact lens wearers develops eye infections that potentially lead to blindness.
- Not following care instructions for the lenses is linked to serious eye infections.
- Up to 90% of contact lens wearers do not follow care instructions.
- Not following cleaning and care instructions and not replacing contact lenses as scheduled increases a wearer’s risk of complications.
- Complications and infections send individuals to doctors and hospitals.
Being a senior doesn’t keep your patient from wearing contacts. Being unable or unwilling to comply with appropriate care and cleaning should stop them.
As a home health care nurse, you spend time with individuals regularly. You have the opportunity to observe if they’re following care instructions. You will also probably be the first person to notice if they’re developing an eye infection.
Signs of an eye infection include:
- Eyes that appear red or irritated
- Worsening pain around the eyes, even when contact lenses are out
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
- Watery or other discharge from the eyes
Your patient may not tell you about these symptoms, at least not immediately. You will notice any redness, irritation, or discharges.
You’ll become aware of the other symptoms because of your one-on-one care. For example, if your patient starts wanting lights dimmed, you can question them about light sensitivity. If they aren’t wearing their contacts, ask why.
Keratitis is a condition in which the cornea can become infected or inflamed. Keratitis has several causes, including contaminated contact lenses. The symptoms are the same as other infections.
Keratitis may also cause your patient to have difficulty opening or closing their eyes due to pain or irritation. All eye infections need medical attention, but keratitis, in particular, can lead to blindness if not treated immediately.
Several Types Of Contact Lenses Are Available
Your patient most likely has soft contact lenses, as that’s the most common type. A few might wear rigid gas-permeable lenses. Others may wear one of several kinds of specialized lenses.
The type is often based on the eye exam. The soft lenses may be disposable after a specified time, ranging from one day to three months. Those are removed at night.
Soft lenses are also available as extended wear and don’t have to be removed at night. These are worn continuously for up to 30 days. They have a greater risk of complications.
Discourage Unsafe Cost-Cutting Practices
It’s essential that your patient replace their contacts as scheduled by their doctor. Some seniors may try to cut costs by wearing their disposables for longer times. Discourage that practice by explaining how they are increasing their risk of infection.
Others may be reusing their cleaning solution to save money. Some may be using plain water or other substances to clean their lenses. The very worst practice is using their saliva to clean or wet their lenses.
Anything but fresh, unexpired commercial solutions recommended by their doctor puts them at risk. They must also wash and thoroughly dry their hands before touching their lenses for any purpose. Contact lens cases must also be cleaned after every use and replaced after three months.
Except for extended wear lenses, individuals must not wear their contacts while sleeping. Lenses should be removed while showering or in any other contact with water. Health promotion materials, such as posters, infographics, or tip sheets can remind patients of contact lens do’s and don’ts.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our home health care nurses in Calabasas and our other locations assist seniors with practicing contact lens hygiene. As a career home health care nurse, you help seniors maintain good eye health.