Use of contact lenses by firefighters. Part 1: Questionnaire data

Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 1997 Mar;17(2):102-11.


The use of contact lenses by firefighters is currently prohibited. However, many firefighters may benefit from this form of visual correction, without predisposing themselves to additional risk. Visual benefits gained by contact lens wear may increase a firefighter's safety. To determine if it is safe to allow firefighters to use contact lenses 29 were fitted with soft contact lenses and 21 with rigid gas permeable contact lenses. Questionnaires were completed prior to fitting, after 1, 4 and 10 months of contact lens wear. Both soft contact lens (SCL) wearers, and rigid gas permeable contact lens (RGPCL) wearers showed a statistically significantly reduction in the frequency with which they experience irritable foreign bodies and irritant fumes in the eyes, compared to not wearing contact lenses. Firefighters felt that their performance on the fireground had been improved by the use of contact lenses. SCL wearers also benefited from a reduction in the frequency with which they experienced watery eyes and ocular discomfort. There were significantly fewer problems encountered with SCL wearers than RGPCL wearers. The frequency with which firefighters experienced lenses falling out, lens displacement, watery eyes, ocular discomfort, and operational difficulties was significantly less for the SCL group than the RGPCL group. SCL appear to offer considerable benefits for firefighters with refractive error, but their use cannot be sanctioned without assessment of their effect on the ocular adnexa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contact Lenses* / adverse effects
  • Contact Lenses, Hydrophilic / adverse effects
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Eye Diseases / etiology
  • Female
  • Fires*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors