Healthy Contact Habits = Healthy Eyes
Summer is here, and people are trading in their winter coats for their sunglasses! Therefore, more and more of my patients are asking about contact lenses. Contact lenses can help people see better without affecting their appearance or interfering with sports, gardening, or other outdoor activities. Contact lenses provide greater visual flexibility, but with that comes more responsibility. According to the CDC, Serious eye infections caused by improper contact lens care can lead to blindness, and affect up to 1 out of every 500 contact lens users per year.
Hygiene is most important when handling your contact lenses in order to prevent infection. It is important to only use approved contact lens solution or rewetting eye drops with contact lenses – and avoid water, ALWAYS. Lenses should never be stored in water, rinsed with one’s saliva, and you should not wear contact lenses while in the shower, pool, or hot tub. Another commonly missed step in the cleaning and care for contact lenses is cleaning and replacing the contact lens case. It is recommended to get a brand new case every time you finish a bottle of disinfecting solution, which should be every 1-3 months. Sometimes the contact lens cases carry the most dangerous bacteria. Don’t “top off” solution or re-use solution. This would be like re-using your mouthwash – Yuck!
Overnight wear, over-extension of replacement, and poor wear schedules lead to great risk of inflammation of the cornea, the live tissue that the contact lens rests upon. Sleeping in contacts, even for napping should not be done UNLESS it has been discussed with and approved by your eye care provider. Besides increasing risk of infection, most lenses are not designed for wear while the eyelids are closed because it can cause reduced oxygen to the eye’s tissue. If this occurs, it can lead to an inflammatory reaction in the tissue causing pain, blurry vision, light sensitivity, and redness.
Finally, ALWAYS have and carry a backup pair of glasses. If there is ever a concern with the vision or comfort of your contact lens, you need to take the contact lens out and allow the eye to recover. Too often I see patients stray from healthy contact lens wear because they do not have any glasses to correct their vision.
You only have one pair of eyes, so take care of them! Remember: Healthy Habits = Healthy Eyes.