- NEW YORK - It is not
a good idea to rinse contact lenses with bottled water, according to Texas
- They note that many consumers assume that bottled water
is sterile " it often is not " and are unaware that bottled water
can contaminate contact lenses with bacteria, leading to eye infections.
- A test of 23 brands of noncarbonated bottled water sold
in grocery stores revealed that 48% contained some type of microorganism,
such as bacteria, yeast, mold or amebae.
- One out of three of the brands (30%) tested contained
high levels of bacteria, or coliform bacteria, a type of organism that
is an indicator of the presence of human or animal waste, according to
a report in the journal Ophthalmology, published by the American Academy
- "Tap and bottled water are not recommended for use
with contact lenses, because of the possibility of microbial contamination,"
report Rebecca Penland and Dr. Kirk Wilhelmus, of the Baylor College of
Medicine in Houston, Texas. "However, many people perceive bottled
water as safer and cleaner than tap water."
- To determine the safety of using bottled water in conjunction
with contact lenses, the researchers tested two samples from 23 brands
of water, including brands sold as "spring," "glacier,"
or "drinking" water.
- Half of the "drinking" water samples contained
some type of growth, compared with 33% of the "spring" water
samples. Forty-three percent of the "drinking" water samples
contained high levels of bacteria or coliform bacteria compared with 13%
of the "spring" water samples. Both samples of a "glacier"
water brand that were tested contained low levels of a bacteria found in
the human urinary tract.
- Overall, 12 of the 23 brands had no bacteria or fungi
in either of the water samples tested, but in 6 brands, both samples were
contaminated with some type of microorganism, according to the report.
- While the risk of becoming sick from noncoliform bacteria
found in bottled water is negligible for healthy individuals, they may
pose a risk if introduced into the eye. Five out of six contact lenses
exposed to contaminated water for just one minute were found to be contaminated
with bacteria 24 hours later.
- "Brief exposure to bottled water can contaminate
contact lenses," the authors conclude. "This study underscores
the importance of using sterile solutions for rinsing and storing contact