When you wear contact lenses every day, it’s easy to lapse into bad hygiene habits—or occasionally forget they’re even there. But it turns out forgetting to wash your lenses or leaving them in overnight can have some pretty serious consequences. Business Insider reports that a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that bad contact lens habits can cause serious eye infections and even lead to permanent eye damage.

The CDC looked at 1075 reported infections related to contact lens use and found that a full 19.8 percent involved a central corneal scar, decreased visual acuity, or required a corneal transplant. All of these are serious but preventable eye infections: Deep corneal scarring can distort or reduce vision and, in severe cases, can necessitate a corneal transplant, which involves having part of someone else’s eye transplanted onto your own. Their results follow a 2015 CDC study which found 99 percent of contact lens wearers reported at least one hygiene-related risk behavior.

Fortunately, you can significantly reduce your chances of serious eye infection by maintaining good contact lens hygiene habits. The study notes that 25.1 percent of the infection reports involved patients with one or more bad contact lens hygiene habits, including sleeping in their lenses (the reports didn't provide enough details to determine a link between contact lens hygiene and infection, so it’s possible the percentage of hygiene-related infections could be higher). The study serves as an important reminder for all contact lens wearers to keep a closer eye on your hygiene habits.

[h/t Business Insider]

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.