Trends in contact lens-related corneal ulcers

Cornea. 2001 Apr;20(3):290-4. doi: 10.1097/00003226-200104000-00010.


Purpose: To identify changes in number of contact lens-related corneal ulcers per year and the type of contact lenses involved.

Methods: Charts of 299 patients with corneal ulcers seen at the Cornea Service of Wills Eye Hospital from January 1, 1996, to June 30, 1999, were retrospectively reviewed. A corneal ulcer was defined as an infiltrate that was treated at least hourly with topical fortified antibiotics or fluoroquinolones.

Results: Of these 299 cases, 37 (12.4%) were related to contact lens use. Contact lens-related ulcers accounted for 10.7% of all corneal ulcers in 1996, 15.3% in 1997, 8.6% in 1998, and 18.2% in the first 6 months of 1999. The contact lenses most commonly associated with ulcers were conventional soft daily-wear contact lenses (33%). There were similar numbers of ulcers associated with extended wear (n = 16) and daily wear (n = 17) of soft contact lenses. In addition, the number of cases associated with conventional (n = 17) and disposable/frequent replacement (n = 16) lenses were similar. Corneal cultures were performed in 15 (40.5%) cases and were positive in 8. There has been a significant decrease in the number of contact lens-related ulcers treated at our institution compared with previous years (1988-1999, p < 0.01).

Conclusions: The number of contact lens-related corneal ulcers in the past 4 years was significantly fewer than previous years at our institution. A similar number of ulcers were associated with conventional and disposable/frequent replacement lenses despite the commercial preponderance of the latter type of lenses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Contact Lenses / adverse effects
  • Contact Lenses / trends*
  • Corneal Ulcer / epidemiology*
  • Corneal Ulcer / etiology
  • Disposable Equipment
  • Eye Infections / drug therapy
  • Eye Infections / epidemiology
  • Eye Infections / etiology
  • Female
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Philadelphia / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Fluoroquinolones