According to the CDC, over 30 million people wear contacts every day in the US alone. Nearly every one of those 30 million people will, at some point, neglect to take care of their contacts through the suggestions outlined by their eye doctor. Even small transgressions like sleeping in your contacts can lead to depriving the eyes of oxygen, bacterial build up, and tearing the cornea. In some extreme cases, such as Taiwanese student Lian Kao who did not remove her contacts for six months, such negligence and lead to serious injury and blindness.
Taking proper care of your contacts is easy, and following the eye care tips listed below will help you keep your eyes safe and healthy, and avoid common contact lens related injuries and infections. Avoiding contact lens complications through proper lens hygiene is the first step to preventing some of the more serious diseases and injuries that contact lens wearers are at risk for.
Only wear your contacts for the time specified by your eye doctor.
Although this seems to be an obvious tip, it is always best to defer to your doctor’s prescriptions for your lenses. If your lenses are only supposed to be worn for a week before being thrown out, try to only wear them for a week and then throw them out. Although your lenses may seem to be fine when the week is up, there is always a risk for bacterial, protein, or lipid build up that can lead to irritating or scratches on the eye.
Remove your contacts before you go to bed.
This is a tip that many people struggle with. Sleeping in your contacts deprives your eyes of vital oxygen and can cause irritation and redness at best, and loss of vision at the worst. It is best to remove your contacts at least an hour before you plan to sleep, and wear glasses that are easily removed when you are ready to go to sleep.
Change the contact solution in your case every day.
When contact solution is topped off rather than changed entirely, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria in your contact lens case, which the contacts are then allowed to sit in overnight. Additionally, you should never put water in your lens case rather than contact solution. The chemicals and bacteria in tap water can be extremely harmful to your contacts and, in turn, your eyes.
Check for spots, dirt, and rips in your lenses before wearing them.
White specks on your contact lenses are indicative of protein build up, which can case small tears in your cornea. Bacteria can enter your eyes through these small wounds and cause serious damage to your eyes that can lead to necessary corrective eye surgery or even blindness. If you see anything unusual on your contact lenses, do not wear them.
Carry a spare contact case and travel sized saline solution.
Women and men should have a spare contact case and saline solution on them at all times, even if it is just in the glove compartment of your car. Oftentimes when caught unaware by a dry contact while out and about, people will put their contacts in their mouth or under tap water to wet them enough to wear. You should never put your contacts in your mouth, as this deposits all the bacteria in your mouth onto your contact and then onto your eye, and the chemicals from tap water can be dangerous when trapped against your eye by your contact lens.
Have regular eye examinations.
Going to the eye doctor for a regular check-up is just as important as going to your general practitioner. Your optometrist doesn’t just change the prescription for your glasses. They also check for any injuries, infections, or diseases in or around your eyes, problems that commonly effect contact lens wearers. Although it is helpful to know first aid for eye emergencies, you should always go to a professional to be absolutely sure your eyes are in good health.
If you live in the New Jersey area and are interested in learning more about your eye health, or with to schedule an appointment at OCLI, please contact us or call us at (973) 560-1500.