As a contact lens wearer myself, I’ll go ahead and plead guilty to many of these offenses. Yes, there have been nights I’ve fallen asleep in my contact lenses. Nor do I replace my lenses on the exact day they should be replaced every month (I probably shouldn’t even be admitting this. My optometrist would be so upset!)
However, the truth remains, many of us don’t take care of contact lenses the way we should. Heck, many of us don’t take care of our health the way we should. Studies show that 35 percent of patients that have glaucoma do not use their IOP-lowering drops as they should, 38 percent of people with Type II Diabetes don’t stick to their insulin regimens, and 40 percent of people that have osteoporosis don’t take their medicine.
And according to studies, we contact wearers are following the same trends as well.
Keep Your Contact Lenses Clean
According to a study referenced to in Contact Lens Spectrum, only 56 percent of contact lens wearers wash their hands with soap and water before handling their contact lenses. That means almost half of us are increasing our risk of eye infection by touching our lenses with unwashed, dirty hands.
Replacing your lenses on their prescribed schedule also plays a big role of keeping your eyes healthy and your lenses fresh. However, many patients wear their lenses past their prescribed date (guilty as charged).
If you have a hectic schedule and you know you’re going to miss that replacement date, consider asking your optometrist about daily wear contact lenses. They’re simple, easy and greatly lower the risk of infection.
Wear Your Contacts Overnight
Again, I feel guilty just writing this because I know I am an offender when it comes to taking out my contact lenses every night. But sleeping in your contacts is a major no-no. Not only does it increase your risk of eye infections, but it also substantially decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to your cornea.
Oxygen deprived corneas are not happy corneas. In fact, if your cornea doesn’t get enough oxygen due to suffocation via contact lens, your eye can start to grow new veins into the cornea as your body’s attempt to deliver oxygen to your eye.
This is also why it’s important to have a pair of prescription eyeglasses as a contact wearer. It takes away from the temptation to wear contacts to bed, because you can take out your lenses when you get home or see the book you’re trying to read before bed without struggling.
Don’t Expose Your Contact Lenses to Water
Did you know that in a study done, 96 percent of the contact lenses worn for 30 minutes of swimming tested positive for contamination? 30 minutes! It is highly encouraged that you keep any water away from your contacts. Surprisingly, even tap water has bacteria that are bad for your contact lenses.
For instance, when you rinse your contact lens case, your contact lenses should never come in contact with tap water. Wash your cases with non-cream based soap and hot water until completely clean and then dry it with a clean, dry cloth. (Personally, after cleaning it, I always just give it a little rinse with some contact lens disinfecting solution. Just for good measure.)
Eye care professionals recommend replacing your contact lens case every 3 to 6 months and with every use, make sure you completely empty and replace the solution in your cases.
Rub Your Contact Lenses
Okay. Last thing I am admitting to, but I’ll admit. I hate rubbing my contact lenses. For the longest time, to me, it was just an extra step between me and bed. In fact, according to surveys, it’s an extra step for about 75 to 77 percent of contact wearers.
However, rubbing your lenses is very important. Rubbing your contact lenses helps to remove the microbial load on the surface of your lenses. It’s highly beneficial when trying to get your contact lenses clean and trying to keep your eyes healthy.
Even if your solution boasts, “No Rub,” it’s always a good idea to give your contact lenses a good little massage and rinse before laying them in their case to rest.
Contact lenses are great. But what’s even greater? Great eye health. Take care of your eyes and your health by taking proper care of your contact lenses. At your next eye exam, ask your optometrist what are the best kind of contact lenses for your eyes and your lifestyle.