Greetings from all of us at Eyewear 20/20, your friendly, full-service eyecare specialists!
Did you know that one out of ten Americans wears contact lenses? That’s nearly forty million contact lens wearers, and for good reason. Not only are contact lenses effective at correcting common vision problems, they’re incredibly comfortable and safe.
Or at least they are when they’re cared for correctly.
More often than we’d like, we at OCLI see (and effectively treat) eye infections that could have been entirely prevented with proper contact lens care.
As common as it is to wear contact lenses, it is less common that wearers know and adhere to the steps to keep their lenses free from contaminants and their eyes free of infections.
For the sake of our patients’ health and happiness, we’d love it if we never again had to treat a problem that could have been prevented by proper contact lens care. With this in mind, we’d like to share the following eight steps to caring for your contacts. Trust us, your eyes will thank you!
1. Replace your contact lens case every three months. Many contact lens wearers are unaware that over time the case develops an invisible bio-film that is a source of contamination. Contact lens cases cost only a few dollars to replace and can be found at any drugstore, so there’s no defensible excuse not to follow this important step.
2. Clean your case regularly by rubbing your finger repeatedly around the inside of each well (the little cup your contact sits in) and then rinse the well thoroughly with lens disinfecting solution. (And don’t forget to thoroughly wash your hands before you begin this process.)
3. If you wear lenses sporadically, disinfect them before you wear them. If it’s been days, weeks, or even months since you last wore your contact lenses, don’t assume the solution in the case they’re stored in is sterile – it’s almost certainly not. The minute or two you’ll save by failing to disinfect your lenses before wearing them isn’t worth the severe eye infection it could cost you.
4. Don’t use water as a cleaning solution. Tap water or even bottled drinking water is not sufficiently sterile to disinfect contact lenses and is likely to contaminate them and to leave mineral deposits. In conjunction with contact lens use, tap water has been associated with a higher risk of acanthamoeba keratitis (a severe corneal infection).
5. While we’re on the subject of water, when it comes to contact lenses, do yourself a favor and just don’t go there. Too often we have seen patients whose eyes have been infected by contamination acquired from lens wear in the swimming pool, the ocean, or even the shower. Water and contact lenses just don’t mix.
6. Always take your contact lenses out before bed. Even though some contacts are FDA approved for sleeping, studies have indicated a 10-15% increase in the rate of eye infections when lenses are worn overnight.
7. Give your eyes a break from contact lenses every now and then. Just like your skin, your eyes need to “breathe.” The eye’s cornea “inhales” oxygen directly from the air and “exhales” it as carbon dioxide. Though today’s lenses are highly “breathable,” it is still advisable to give your eyes a “breather” on a regular basis. (Having a pair of backup glasses can be really helpful in this regard.)
8. Don’t wear contact lenses for more days than is indicated by the manufacturer. There are many different kind of contact lenses on the market with a “life” ranging from a single day (“daily wear”) to multiple years (gas permeable lenses). Continuing to wear your contacts past the time of their “expiration” is a recipe for an eye infection.
At OCLI, we can happily answer any and all questions you might have about contact lenses or any vision care concern you may have! Reach out to us today, and whether it’s contact lenses, glasses, permanent vision correction, or anything else you might be interested in, we’ll help you see the world more clearly and comfortably!