For contact wearers …
Do you recall the steps for removing your lenses correctly? According to ContactLensSafety.org:
“Start by washing your hands with soap and water, and dry them with a clean, lint-free towel. Then remove your contact from your eye, hold it in your palm and rub the lens with solution to remove any debris. After the lens is clean, take your clean, dry case and fill it with fresh solution before putting the lens into the case and screwing the lid on tight.”
If you’ve followed that routine to the letter and never bent the rules, excellent work! Chances are you don’t have any of the following bad habits and you can go about your day. However if, like most, you’ve been guilty of reusing a towel, not letting your contact case dry out fully, saving the last of your solution by not rinsing the lens before putting it away or any other seemingly small deviation from your hygiene routine, this post is for you.
“Why does this matter to me?” you ask.
Many contact lens wearers started wearing contact lenses as far back as middle school, and were guilty of wearing their contacts without a break. Kids often just don’t see a problem with wearing them for days at a time: If their eyes feel fine, there’s no problem, right?
Younger contact lens wearers often follow this logic until their eyes start to swell and burn. Then they go to the eye doctor, who may tell them that extended wear of their contact lenses led to a protein coating lens that caused their inner eyelid to become infected. In many cases, this is essentially a noncontagious form of pink eye that can prohibit contact lens use for months.
After such an experience, most wearers become more cautious and better versed in contact lens hygiene and best practices. Unfortunately, some people don’t get a “wake-up call,” and end up with more serious conditions like corneal infections, which can lead to vision loss.
To avoid pink eye and other more serious conditions, here’s what you should do:
1. Replace your contacts regularly. You should follow your eye doctor’s recommended replacement schedule, but if your vision is blurry and contacts are causing pain or discomfort, take them out and get a new pair.
2. Give your eyes a rest. Even if you have extended-wear contacts, keep in mind that your eyes need oxygen, and even the best contacts stifle your eye’s ability to breathe.
3. Use fresh solution every time you store your contacts. Re-using solution prevents your lenses from getting clean: The bacteria on your lenses comes off in the solution, and re-use can cause bacterial infections.
4. Replace and clean your contact case. Your case should be replaced every three months and washed after every use for the same reason you use fresh solution; you don’t want your contacts sitting in bacteria pools.
5. Keep your contacts clean. This means washing your hands, removing eye make-up before putting in your contacts and not supplementing with saliva or water when you’re out of solution.
6. Honor your routine eye exam. Even if you haven’t run out of contacts, don’t need a new prescription or think everything is going just fine, it’s important to see your eye doctor for your routine eye exam so he or she can make sure your eyes are healthy.
When it comes to your vision health, it’s always best to follow your eye doctor’s advice. But following these tips can help you keep your visits to the eye doctor routine (not emergency) and your eyes healthy.
This post is based on content that first appeared in SmileInSight.