September 20, 2018

'Today' anchor Melvin Craig reveals he has corneal ulcer due to sleeping with his contacts on

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"Today" anchor Craig Melvin did something for the first time in his 15-year broadcasting career, and that was wearing glasses while on live television. This was due to an eye condition that he had after wearing his contacts for an extended period of time. 

For the first time in decades, Craig Melvin gave up his filthy habit of wearing disposable contact lenses for an extended period of time, particularly when he sleeps. 

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During an interview with People, he shares the bad habit with the rest of the world in hopes of warning people of the effects of doing what he did. 

“I was one of those people that did not listen to their ophthalmologist when they would tell them repeatedly that they should not sleep in their contact lenses. I never had any problems when I did, so if my eyes got dry I would just use rewetting drops. I just thought that maybe my eyes were different.”

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However, last August 27, the "Today" show news anchor noticed that his left eye was getting red. Thinking it was just an eye allergy, he opted to take over-the-counter medicine, although his newsroom co-workers told him to go see a doctor. After two days, the redness did not subside which made him decide to get checked. It was then discovered that he actually had a corneal ulcer. 

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"The doctor said if it had gone untreated for several weeks, it could have been irreparable."

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Having a corneal ulcer is a possible condition for the estimated 45 million contact lens users around America. Although there are not a lot of recorded cases per year, just an estimate of 30,000 to 75,000, it is actually a major eye risk that could lead to blindness. The ulcer occurs when people do not clean their contact lenses properly, or use them to sleep just as Melvin was doing. Sharing a little bit more about the ulcer, Detroit-based ophthalmologist Dr. Steven A. Shanbom said: 

"Usually, you have a little bit of dry eye or an abrasion that allows bacteria to get in the eye and form an ulcer. When you’re sleeping and your eyes are closed, you’re not getting much oxygen into the eye, which allows these bacteria to grow. It sets up a perfect storm for infection.”

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According to Melvin, his ophthalmologist described sleeping with contacts like "wearing the same pair of underwear every day". Since then, he has not worn his contact lenses to work and has settled for a pair of glasses, much to the amusement of his co-workers who made "glasses" signals on their own eyes while Craig laughed along. 

As for what his advice is to contact lens users, he says:

"Three words: Take them out. Don't be an idiot like me."

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