Contact lenses mean freedom from glasses for many people across the country today. While every contact lens wearer is familiar with basic lens care, it’s easy to get caught up from time to time and forget a step. Here are some contact care do’s and don’ts that will help explain why good contact care and wear habits are so important.
Contact Care Do’s
- Practice good hygiene. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and dry them before touching contact lenses. Use a clean, lint-free towel or cloth to avoid transferring fibers to your eye. Make sure you’re cleaning your lenses properly. Even if you use a multipurpose or no-rub contact lens solution, studies have shown that rubbing your lenses while you rinse is much more effective than simply rinsing and soaking.
- Avoid contact with water. Remove your contacts before swimming, and never rinse them in water. Rinse your contact storage case with lens solution, not water.
- Store your lenses correctly. Always rinse out your storage case with fresh lens solution and replace the solution each time you store your lenses. Never reuse solution you have previously stored your lenses in- this could lead to contamination. It’s better to rinse out your case and let it air dry between uses. Throw out your case and replace it every three months or as your doctor recommends. Replace your case if it becomes damaged.
- Make an appointment. See your optometrist or ophthalmologist regularly for annual eye exams and keep your prescription up to date. Talk to your doctor about which lenses are right for you.
Contact Care Don’ts
- Use anything other than contact lens solution to clean or store contacts. Never use water, eye drops, saline, or any other solution on your contacts. Not only will it not disinfect your lenses like contact lens solution will, but you risk infection.
- Sleep wearing contact lenses. Always remove lenses before bedtime.
- Over wear your lenses. Stick to the replacement schedule given to you by your doctor and don’t wear an old pair when it’s time to throw them out. Bacteria and other potentially harmful deposits build up on the lens over time, putting your eye in direct contact with them.
- Purchase contacts without a prescription. It is against the law to purchase contact lenses, even “non prescription” cosmetic or costume lenses, without a prescription. Prescriptions are valid for one year following a comprehensive eye exam with a contact lens fitting. Part of your prescription includes measurements based on the shape of your eye to ensure the contact will fit correctly. Don’t purchase from a vendor who doesn’t request a prescription or continues to accept an expired one.
Why Is Contact Care so Important?
Contacts are safe to wear for most people, especially when used correctly. However, misuse of contacts can lead to painful and damaging consequences for your eyes. Some of these behaviors are very common- approximately one-third of contact wearers have reported sleeping in their lenses.
Improper contact care and wear habits puts wearers at risk for corneal infection. Because the microbes that accumulate on the lens are in direct contact with the eye, deviation from correct cleaning and wear routines can give bacteria a chance to multiply and cause problems. The risk factor goes up if you add water. Whether it’s a pool, hot tub, lake, or out of the tap, water harbors infection-causing microbes as well as potentially harmful chemicals. Although many people sleep in their contacts, this is one of of the riskiest habits, increasing risk of infection by six to eight times. Wearing contacts for extended periods of time also deprives the cornea of oxygen, which increases the likelihood of infection.
- corneal abrasion– a scratch on the surface of the eye
- corneal ulcer– an open sore on the surface of the eye
In some cases, improper care can lead to painful corneal abrasions or corneal ulcers. Ill-fitting lenses such as costume lenses obtained with no prescription can lead to abrasions as they don’t correctly fit the shape of your eye. Ulcers may develop from an infection and can be the result of bacteria, fungus, or other microorganisms. Corneal abrasions and corneal ulcers can both be treated. In severe cases, there may be permanent damage or vision loss and corneal transplant may be required to repair the damage done by a corneal ulcer.
With correct contact lens care and wear habits, the chances of painful infection and eye problems are drastically reduced. Always remember to keep your routine exam appointment. Call your doctor if you begin to experience unusual symptoms such as pain, light sensitivity, and irritation.
Call us at (951) 696-1135 to schedule an appointment and update your contact lens prescription!