By Melissa Chan
August 19, 2016
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

Federal health officials on Thursday warned the improper use of contact lenses can lead to serious eye infections and long-term damage.

Nearly one in five contact lens-related eye infections reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the last decade resulted in eye damage, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report reviewed 1,075 reported contact lens-related infections between 2005 and 2015. The patients in those injuries said they either had a scarred cornea, needed a corneal transplant or suffered a reduction in vision. In more than 10 percent of the reports, patients sought emergency care, the CDC said.

Read More: 3 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Contact Lenses

“Contact lenses are a safe and effective form of vision correction when worn and cared for as recommended,” Michael Beach, director of CDC’s Healthy Water Program, said in a statement. “However, improper wear and care of contact lenses can cause eye infections that sometimes lead to serious, long-term damage.”

About 41 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses, federal health officials said. The CDC said contact lens users should not sleep in contact lenses, always use fresh contact lens solution, and replace lenses often.

The FDA regulates contact lenses as medical devices.

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