Do's and don’ts for contact lens wearers

Too many people think of contact lenses as purely cosmetic however, contact lenses are medical devices that can only be prescribed by an eye care professional.

LIFESTYLE NEWS - Do my eyes see well? Do my eyes look well? Do my eyes feel well? If you answered no to any of these, it is time to visit your optometrist.

Too many people think of contact lenses as purely cosmetic however, contact lenses are medical devices that can only be prescribed by an eye care professional.

Leading online contact lens supplier Eyesupply has the following tips for contact lens wearers:

DO keep your hands clean

Your hands are covered with germs, so always wash them well before touching your eyes and handling contact lenses. Throughout the day and night our hands pick up microbes. 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.

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.

DO clean the lenses properly every day

Clean your contact lenses every day with the contact lens solution prescribed by your eyecare 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.

DON'T use eye drops unless they are 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.

DO clean your contact lens case once per week and replace it every three months

Clean your contact lens case once a week with mild soap and allow to dry completely prior to adding your contact lenses and solution. Keeping the case clean will help prevent bacteria from settling on your contact lenses. Furthermore, 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, 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. Researchers found that people who didn’t clean and dry their contact cases, and wash their hands with soap and water before handling them, had a higher count of microorganisms in their cases.

DON'T borrow lenses from a friend or another person

The main danger with wearing someone else's contact lenses is of course the possibility of contracting an eye infection.

This comes from pathogenic germs that can be 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.

DO follow the contact lens wearing schedule recommended to you by your eye doctor

Follow your contact lens wear schedule to ensure that you are not using your lenses for too long. It is important that the wear is not 'stretched' beyond the prescribed period. Protein deposits, lipids and bacterial biofilm will start to settle in the contact lens pores, and these are not easily removed past the recommended wear schedule and can cause infection.

DON'T over wear your contact lenses past their wearing schedule

Comply with the instructed 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. Your prescription, personal eyewear needs, and lifestyle can all factor into the contact lens type and brand prescribed by your eye health professional.

DO give the eyes a break in the evening for a few hours before bed

You should wear your contact lenses less than 12 hours per day, ideally eight to 10 hours, in order to maintain healthy corneas.

DON'T sleep wearing contact lenses

It is not recommended to sleep while wearing contact lenses, even though there are some extended wear lens types. Sleeping in contact lenses increases the risk of an eye infection by approximately 10 times, so sleeping in them, even part-time, is typically not recommended.

But some contact lenses are approved for wearing at night, so as long as you get regular eye check-ups and your doctor approves, it may be all right. Always consult your eye doctor first.

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