Objectives: Patient noncompliance with recommended hygienic practices in contact lens wear is often considered a significant risk factor for microbial keratitis and adverse contact lens-related events. Despite advancements in lens materials and care solutions, noncompliant behavior continues to hinder efforts to maximize contact lens safety. The objective of this pilot study was to assess the relationship between perceived and actual compliance with awareness of risk and behavior.
Methods: One hundred sixty-two established contact lens wearers were sequentially evaluated after their routine contact lens examination at the Optometry Clinic at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, TX. Each patient was questioned by a single trained interviewer regarding his or her lens care practices and knowledge of risk factors associated with lens wear.
Results: Eighty-six percent of patients believed they were compliant with lens wear and care practices; 14% identified themselves as noncompliant. Using a scoring model, 32% demonstrated good compliance, 44% exhibited average compliance, and 24% were noncompliant; age was a significant factor (P = 0.020). Only 34% of patients who perceived themselves as compliant exhibited a good level of compliance (P<0.001). Eighty percent of patients reported an awareness of risk factors, but awareness did not influence negative behavior. Replacing the lens case was the only behavior associated with a positive history for having experienced a prior contact lens-related complication (P = 0.002).
Conclusions: Perceived compliance is not an indicator for appropriate patient behavior. A large proportion of patients remain noncompliant despite awareness of risk. Education alone is not a sufficient strategy to improve behavior; newer approaches aimed at improving compliance with lens care practices are urgently needed.