Using Contact Lenses? Pay Attention to Contact Lens Hygiene
If you don’t like wearing glasses, you can use contact lenses. They don’t alter your appearance and are safe when used properly. That said, if you don’t maintain contact lens hygiene, you are risking serious eye problems. Eye infections due to contact lenses can result in permanent eye damage and in some cases, partial or complete loss of vision.
Don’t underestimate the risk of eye infections
Poor contact lens hygiene can make the cornea prone to infection by microbes like bacteria and fungi. The result is inflammation, pain, and vision problems. This is called keratitis and it can lead to partial or total loss of vision.
In the US, there are 41 million contact lens users, but many people don’t understand the importance of contact lens hygiene. As a result, cases of eye infections are on the rise.
Based on data collected over a period of ten years, the FDA estimates that about 20 percent of patients treated for contact-lens-related infections suffer serious eye damage. Several patients suffer permanent scarring of the cornea or require a transplant. Only a small percentage of users actually get these infections, but the consequence of an infection can be serious.
The risk of eye damage is not the only reason to use contacts carefully. Even minor incidences of keratitis can be very painful and may disrupt your daily routine. You may need daily visits to the doctor and it usually becomes necessary to apply topical treatments like eye drops on an hourly basis. While the problem is serious, you can easily prevent it by using contact lenses correctly.
The three most common reasons for lens-related eye problems
Most of the problems due to contact lenses are due to carelessness and can be easily avoided.
- Sleeping with contact lenses on. This increases the risk of infection by up to eight times.
- Using contact lenses beyond their recommended life. Statistical data suggests that people who don’t replace lenses in time are more prone to eye infections and when infections occur, they tend to be more complicated.
- Using contaminated lens storage solutions or improper use of lens solutions.
Important precautions while using contact lenses
A contact lens is a foreign body that sits on your eyes for several hours a day. It is a medical device and you should give it the required care and attention.
- Never handle lenses with wet or unclean hands. Prepare by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and rinse under running water. Dry your hands properly with a clean lint-free towel.
- Always keep the lenses away from water. Remove them before entering the shower or going for a swim. Never rinse or store your lenses in water.
- Never use saliva to wet your lenses.
- Rewetting drops are meant only to add moisture. They are not meant to disinfect your lenses.
- Replace contact lenses on time according to the instructions of your doctor.
- Clean and store lenses properly. Use an approved contact lens solution and follow the guidelines of the manufacturer and your doctor.
- It’s best to clean contact lenses by rubbing them with your fingers and rinsing them using the contact lens solution.
- Don’t use water to clean the contact lens case. Rinse it with the contact lens solution and keep it open so that it dries completely.
- Replace the lens case every three months or if they are damaged.
- Never reuse the contact lens solution. Don’t try to salvage the remaining solution in the lens case by topping it.
- Always store and carry the solution in its original bottle and ensure that it is tightly closed after each use.
- Avoid touching the tip of the solution bottle to any surface because it can get contaminated.
- Don’t wear contact lenses that have been left unused for a month or more without disinfecting them again. For shorter periods, check the instructions for both the lenses and the lens solution to determine if it is safe to use without disinfecting.
- The risk of infection is least with single-use lenses. If you don’t use contacts regularly, consider using these disposable lenses.
- Don’t sleep with your contacts on.
- Pain, irritation, redness, or vision problems are signs of trouble. Remove your lenses immediately and consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- Go to your eye doctor for a checkup at least once per year.
Using contact lenses without maintaining good hygiene can have serious consequences. Your eyes may get infected and this can lead to eye damage. Even if you use contact lenses regularly, keep a pair of spare glasses with you. This allows you to switch to regular glasses if you are unable to wear your lenses for any reason. For those that are considering better vision without relying on glasses and contacts, LASIK is a great alternative. LASIK can give you the freedom to pursue activities and experience life in ways that just weren’t possible before. If you are thinking about LASIK, talk to people you know who’ve had the procedure, do your research, and visit a few LASIK providers to help you understand the limitations of LASIK as well as its many dramatic benefits. You’ll be a more satisfied LASIK patient as a result.