Many lens wearers don’t know enough about care and hygiene regiments, which is why an appointment with an eye care professional and a proper contact lens fitting is key.
Remember, contact lenses are a prescribed product and should be seen as medical devices that can only be prescribed by an eye care professional.
|1. Keep your hands clean
Without proper hand-washing, bacteria will transfer from your fingers to the contact lenses and, ultimately, to your eyes. Make sure you use clear, lotion-free soap, and dry your hands thoroughly.
|1. Don’t “top off” contact lens solution
Always use fresh contact lens solution when you’re storing your lenses overnight. Adding new solution to old solution already in the case, or cleaning lenses with water, has been linked to cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare but painful infection that’s difficult to treat.
|2. Clean lenses properly every day
Clean your contact lenses every day with the contact lens solution prescribed by your eye care professional. Ideally do this upon removal to create a habit. If you are cleaning with a multipurpose type of contact lens solution, make sure to gently rub your lenses to remove biofilms of bacteria, protein, and lipid deposits.
|2. Don’t use eye drops unless they’re specified as safe for use with contacts
Not all eye drops are suitable for contact lenses. Contacts can interfere with absorption so, artificial tears aside, it’s a good idea to take them out before using drops. Read the instructions on medications carefully and speak to your doctor if you have any questions.
|3. Clean your contact lens case once a week and change them every three months
Clean your contact lens case once a week with mild soap and allow to completely dry prior to adding your contact lenses and solution. Replacing your contact lens case every three months reduces the risk of bacteria getting onto your lenses. To properly clean your case, pour all contact lens solution out of the case, rub it with a clean finger and then rinse it with fresh solution. Wipe it dry with a tissue and store it upside down (caps, too) on a tissue until you’re ready to remove your contacts at night.
|3. Don’t borrow lenses from a friend or another person
The main danger with wearing someone else’s contact lenses is the possibility of contracting an eye infection caused by pathogenic germs found on the other person’s lenses. The other person may look perfectly healthy and never have had a problem with their eyes, but this is not a guarantee.
|4. Follow your contact lens wear schedule as recommended by your eye doctor
It is important that the wear is not “stretched” passed the prescribed period. Protein deposits, lipids and bacterial biofilm will start to settle in the contact lens pores and are not easily removed past the recommended wear schedule, leading to risk of infection.
|4. Don’t over-wear your contact lenses past their wearing schedule
Contact lenses should be replaced according to your doctor’s direction. Some disposable lenses are intended to be thrown away either every day, every other week, or monthly. Gas-permeable lenses are an exception: they’re longer-wearing and are typically replaced once a year. Wearing contact lenses beyond the recommended time can lead to unhealthy eyes, discomfort and ultimately infection.
|5. Give your eyes a break in the evening for a few hours before bed
You should wear your contact lenses for less than 12 hours per day, ideally eight to 10 hours, in order to maintain healthy corneas.
|5. Don’t sleep in contact lenses
Sleeping in contact lenses increases the risk of an eye infection by approximately x10, so sleeping in them, even part of the time, is typically not recommended. Some contact lenses are approved for wearing at night, but always consult with your eye doctor first.
|6. Take a day or two off during the week with no wear
It is recommended to have a break from wearing contact lenses every once in a while for your eye health. Pick up your specs and wear them at least once a week.
|6. Don’t shower or swim with contacts in
Avoid water activities while wearing contact lenses to avoid dirty water settling between the contact and eye. This especially applies to hot tubs and pools. It is never a good idea to wear contact lenses where there is water as bacteria can accumulate and cause infections. Prescription swimming goggles are the best eyewear solution if you are involved in water sports.
|7. Throw away expired lenses and solutions
You may feel guilty for throwing away a full box of lenses or bottle of solution, but do NOT be tempted to use expired product. Expired products can lead to severe bacterial or fungal infections, vision loss or in extreme cases, even blindness. If you’re a person who buys in bulk, be sure you check expiration dates before you purchase or open a new box of lenses or solution bottle.
|7. Don’t leave your contact lenses sitting in their case for over seven days without changing the solution
If you keep your lenses stored in a contact lens case for weeks at a time without wearing them, remember to change the solution every seven days. Keeping fresh solution in the case will keep bacteria buildup on the lenses at bay.
|8. See your eye doctor regularly
Even if your eyes feel fine, make an appointment every six months. Occasionally, contact-lens-related issues are caught during a routine examination, before the eyes become uncomfortable. If your eyes become itchy, red, or watery, take your contacts out immediately and see your doctor if your eyes don’t get better or start feeling worse.
|8. Ignore your eyes if they are not happy
If your eyes are uncomfortable at any point, contact your optometrist immediately for professional advice.