Contact Lens Safety Tips & Tricks
Contact lens safety is something we spend a lot of time talking about here in the office. When patients follow proper care techniques, there is little risk associated with wearing contact lenses. Sometimes though, it is easy to get into bad habits. In this blog, we’re going to be talking about proper contact lens care and the problems that can arise if you’re not careful.
Cleaning Your Contacts
Keeping contacts clean and sanitary should be the number one goal of every contact wearer. Contacts sit directly on your eye, so any germ or dirt particles that are left on them are put onto your eye the next time you insert them. Therefore, cleaning your lenses properly and with the correct contact solution is extremely important. Dr. Pulsfus will recommend the best type of cleaning solution for you, but here are some of the most common options for soft contacts.
Multi-Purpose Contact Cleaning Solutions
This type of solution is probably the one most of our patients are familiar with. With this solution, you simply add new solution to your case every night when you remove your contacts, pop the contacts in, and let them soak until the next morning. The solution will clean and disinfect your lenses overnight without harsh chemicals that could be harmful to your eyes. Although these solutions often state they do not require manual rubbing of the lens, doctors do recommend gently rubbing to remove dirt and protein deposits and then rinsing the lens with a stream of solution to encourage a more thorough cleaning. These types of solutions are the easiest to use properly, which is a big plus for patients. You also don’t have to worry about accidentally causing irritation with these as they are safe for use on the eye straight out of the bottle.
Hydrogen Peroxide Based Lens Care Systems
Hydrogen peroxide based (HPB) solutions are great for thoroughly disinfecting lenses and removing protein. These are often recommended for patients that struggle with their contacts staying comfortable for the entire 2 week or 4 week cycle. HPB systems require a neutralizing agent to counteract the hydrogen peroxide as it is toxic to the corneal surface. The most common HPB system uses a disk in the bottom of the supplied case to neutralize the hydrogen peroxide. After the solution is in contact with the disk for a specified length of time, usually 6-8 hours, it is safe to remove the contacts and apply them to the eye. Remember to follow the instructions of these solutions exactly, since they are not safe for use directly on the eye or for rinsing purposes.
It is important, regardless of the type of lens care system you use, that you start with fresh solution each time you return your lenses to their case. Storing dirty lenses in used solution is not good for the lens or your eye and increases your risk of infection. Also, if you plan on storing your contacts in a case for more than a couple days, check with your doctor to find out how long your specific solution remains sterile.
Contact lens safety is incredibly important to reduce the risk of eye infection and eye injury. Here are some other tips about wearing your contact lenses safely:
Never sleep in your contacts! Remove them prior to sleeping.
Don’t swim or shower in your contacts. Water is not sterile and can cause infection if it gets under the lens.
Don’t use water in place of solution; you could get a blinding eye infection.
Don’t purchase contact lenses without a prescription. Contacts are a medical device and require seeing a doctor to ensure a healthy fit.
Not all contacts are created equal. Only purchase your contacts from reputable vendors, such as Bright Eyes Family Vision. A recent study showed contacts purchased illegally from a gas station contained bacteria similar to that found in toilet water!
Colored and Halloween contacts are fun but again, only purchase them from reputable sellers. Eye injury, infection, abrasions, and sores are only a few of the risks associated with decorative contact lenses.
Replace your contact lens case every three months. This can reduce your risk of fungal infection.
Contact lenses can be inside out. Make sure your lens edges are "up like cup" and not flared out when it's on your finger.
Never lick your contact lenses or put them in your mouth to moisten them. Use a rewetting drop or saline.
If your contact lens rips or tears and you aren’t sure if you got all of it out of your eye, see your eye doctor for an exam.