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With estimated numbers of contact lens wearers worldwide exceeding 140 million, even complications with a low incidence will affect a significant number of individuals. Although contact lenses clearly have many advantages for wearers, certain risks have been associated with their use. Differences in risk for different types of contact lenses and wearing patterns have been demonstrated for both rare and common lens related complications. This review particularly focuses on the incidence and etiology of contact lens related corneal infection and inflammation. An understanding of the risks and contributory factors to these conditions is important for practitioners and will enable an informed choice of safer lens wear modalities, wear schedules, and hygiene regimes to be made.