The Proper Use and Care of Contacts
In last month’s blog post about preserving eye health and clear vision, Dr. Gregory Johnson and the team at Intracoastal Eye in Wilmington, NC touched on the proper care and handling of contact lenses. We mentioned that not caring for contact lenses properly can lead to a range of eye infections — some that lead to blindness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 1 million health care visits every year for keratitis (inflammation of the cornea) and other contact lens complications.
Dr. Johnson thought it would be helpful to devote another post to discussing the particulars of proper contact lens hygiene and compliance.
Basics of Contact Lens Care
First and foremost, you should always wash and dry your hands before touching your contacts.
When taking out your lenses, you must clean and rinse them before putting them into their storage case. Only use products that your eye doctor has recommended to disinfect the lenses (don’t use water or saliva). You might use a daily cleaner and a saline solution to rinse and store the lenses, or a multipurpose solution to clean, rinse, disinfect and store the lenses.
Making sure your fingers are clean, gently rub the contacts with cleaning solution or a multipurpose product to loosen up cosmetics or other debris; follow up with a thorough rinse.
When putting the contacts back into their case, make sure there is enough saline or multipurpose solution to cover each lens completely. Always use fresh solution (don’t “top off” the old solution).
Clean your contact lens case regularly with sterile contact lens solution and leave it open so it can air dry in between storing your lenses. Replace the case every three months. If it gets damaged or cracked, replace it immediately.
You should always remove your contact lenses before doing anything where water can get in your eyes. This includes showering, swimming, going into a Jacuzzi or enjoying water sports or activities. Replace your contacts according to your eye doctor’s instructions. Wearing old lenses or lenses that do not fit well can cause eye scratches and other complications.
If you need to store your lenses for a long time, you might need to re-disinfect them before wearing them again. Read the instructions on your lenses or your lens solution, or ask your eye doctor.
Perhaps most importantly, NEVER sleep in your contacts. Overnight wear significantly increases your risk for a corneal ulcer.
If you notice any troubling symptoms, such as red, painful or watery eyes, blurry vision or eye discharge, remove your contacts and call your eye doctor.
For more information about contact lens hygiene, please call or email Intracoastal Eye today.