LOS ANGELES (KABC) --Forty million Americans wear contact lenses, but at least a third said they ended up at the doctor's office because of red or painful eyes.
Often, the cause is wearing the lenses for too long, but the injury can be long lasting. Doctors say in some cases, surgery may be the answer.
Rebekah Fraser, 26, is an aircraft mechanic and depends on clear sight. But for years, she slept in her contact lenses and developed ulcers on her eyes.
Fraser said she had the type of contacts that required her to take them out every night, clean them before putting them back in the morning -- but she did not follow these directions. Instead, she said she slept with them in her eyes.
"And therefore there's a much higher rate of infection and corneal ulcers with this that can have a permanent impact in your vision if they are not treated," said Jeffrey Whitman, ophthalmologist from Key Whitman Eye Centers. "Becka was legally blind without wearing some type of prescription eye wear."
Whitman performed Lasik surgery, which is traditionally done to correct nearsightedness. But in Fraser's case, it also reshaped her cornea and saved her vision.
"She saw 20/20 the next day and she could already tell as soon as she got up from the procedure table that she could see better already," Whitman said.
Fraser said the procedure has made a huge impact on her life.
"It's helped with work, it's helped with play, it's helped with driving, it's helped with everything," she said. "It still surprises me, like there will be days where I am like, yeah I can still see, there's no problems with it, I can still see."
Here are a few tips from doctors to prevent infections:
- Don't sleep in contact lenses no matter how tired you are.
- Don't top off old solution with new solution.
- Don't try to get more use out of lenses - replace when recommended.