More than half of asymptomatic soft contact lens wearers could harbor undiagnosed ocular and systemic health issues, which underscores the need for routine exams even for patients who don’t appear to have any obvious problems, a study in Contact Lens & Anterior Eye suggests.

The research team from California and Massachusetts also reported that even successful soft lens wearers had a substantial amount of contact lens hygiene and lens design issues.

The study included 202 asymptomatic patients who presented to two clinics for routine contact lens exams and prescription renewals. All participants presented without complaints and said they had been successfully wearing replacement soft lenses for at least a year.

Patients ranged in age from 16 to 72 and included 126 women and 76 males with spherical prescription ranges between +7.75D and -19.25D.

The study found 105 patients (52%) exhibited at least one undiagnosed concern. Additionally, 70% were diagnosed with contact lens-driven ocular complications, while 54% had ocular health issues that weren’t related to contact lens wear. Also, 4% showed signs of undiagnosed systemic disease.

Of note, complication prevalence increased to 72% overall if both contact lens fit issues and contact lens care compliance problems were found.

“A striking ocular health and contact lens complication rate in asymptomatic soft contact lens wearers is demonstrated across two different study sites. This data suggests that asymptomatic as well as symptomatic contact lens wearers require routine professional evaluations,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

Chen EY, Myung Lee E, Loc-Nguyen A, et al. Value of routine evaluation in asymptomatic soft contact lens wearers. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. March 4, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].