Through the years I often find that there are common questions and/or bad habits that repeat themselves with contact lens wearers whether they may be new to wearing contact lenses or even seasoned contact lens wearers for many years. I have compiled a short list of guidelines of what I call Do’s and Don’ts for contact lens wearers to follow.
Do make sure to practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands prior to handling your contact lenses. There is a ton of bacteria on your hands and you never know what you touched that could potentially cause you to have a nasty bacterial, viral, or worse a fungal infection. Also, hand cream and hand sanitizer can absorb into the contacts causing a chemical burn.
Don’t swim with your Contacts in and Don’t rinse contact lenses with tap water: Contact lenses will absorb water causing it to change it’s shape and material composition. When water is absorbed, contacts become tighter fitting causing your eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable. Once water becomes absorbed, the microorganisms that are in the water get trapped behind the contact causing your cornea to remain in intimate contact with bacteria or fungus that can create an eye infection that may be vision threatening.
Do rub your contacts after removal to clean them if they are NOT a 1 Day disposable: Many contact lens wearers make the mistake to assume that contact lenses will become properly cleaned just by soaking them over night into a multipurpose cleaning solution for contacts. Protein, bacteria, and debris may deposit on your contacts that may not come off easily by simply soaking. These deposits can lead to bumps underneath your eyelids called GPC-giant papillary conjunctivitis leading to contact discomfort and even intolerance. Only hydrogen peroxide based cleaning solutions are capable of “no rub” cleaning capacity.
Don’t reuse your contact lens cleaning solutions: After your contacts have soaked in the cleaning solution overnight, there is a plethora of debris and bacteria that are remaining inside that old solution. Not throwing out your old solution and replacing it with new cleaning solution in your contact lens case will cause them to be soaking in bacteria filled solution. This bad habit will guarantee you to have an eye infection at some point. So please, use fresh cleaning solution every time you need to clean or store your contacts.
Do clean your contact lens case and throw it out every 3 months: It is best to use contact lens multipurpose cleaning solution to clean your contact lens case and then wipe it dry with a paper towel. Leaving your case moist can cause bacteria to easily multiply.
Don’t use generic multipurpose contact lens cleaners: Quality control is not as good as a branded products and stick with one brand of solution and be consistent.
Do throw out your contacts according to their required replacement time frame: Contact lenses that are approved for 2 week or monthly use are really just that. It is NOT the amount of days of wear but the time that you open the lens package. The contact lens does not remain as clean after the recommended time period of use and can lead to an eye infection and lack of oxygen to the cornea.
Don’t sleep with your contacts in: Your cornea is the clear part of your eye where the contact lens sits directly on top. The cornea receives oxygen through the air quite feely during the day when your eyes are open. When you go to sleep your eyelids are closed which, stops the amount of oxygen entering in. When you have a contact lens on, the contact lens acts like a piece of plastic containing small pores that can allow oxygen to permeate through but never as adequately as if there is nothing laying on top of the cornea. Now when you sleep with a contact lens on overnight, there is extreme oxygen deprivation, the cornea swells, and the contact lens gets tighter on the cornea. One of the common complications that can arise is something called “CLARE”- contact lens acute red eye causing you to be unable to wear contacts lenses for a period of time. If you insist on wearing contacts for sleeping in overnight, you should talk to your eye doctor about contact lenses that are FDA approved for overnight wear. This is better alternative however; this type of modality does not make you immune to contact lens related complications.
Do put your contacts in before applying makeup. Putting in your contacts before applying your makeup helps to keep them cleaner. Also you should remove your contacts before removing your makeup.
Don’t continue wearing your contacts if your eyes are looking red, feeling irritated and or vision is blurry. I tell all my patients that red eyes mean stop wearing your contacts. Red eyes can be caused by many reasons. Common reasons include dryness, corneal irritation, contact lens over wear, or a corneal ulcer. If eye redness persists more than 1 day, you should schedule an appointment to visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist.
If you are ever unsure about your contacts, don’t be shy to ask your eye doctor. Contact lenses are considered a medical device, so they should be cared for responsibly. As a reminder, contact lens wearers should have their eye health evaluated and contact lens prescription updated annually.
Schedule your contact lens exam with us today!
Dr. Michelle Battaglia-Capogna