CONTACT LENS CARE & HANDLING:
Because contact lenses are placed directly on the eye, their handling and care is much different than glasses. If you follow these guidelines you will enjoy better comfort and fewer problems.
- Lenses that are not properly cleaned and disinfected increase the risk of eye infections. Contact lenses should be cleaned every day after removing them. Just like clothing or dirty dishes, they should be cleaned before re-using them.
- Care of contact lenses includes cleaning the case as it is a potential source of contamination. The case should be rinsed with contact lens solution and allowed to air dry. Flip the case upside down and use the caps to prop it up to allow it to air dry without getting dust in it.
- Lenses that are old or not properly fitted may scratch the eye or decrease oxygen to the eye, which can create irritation and complications. The lenses can warp and the cornea can change shape over time, therefore it is advised to get the power and cornea re-evaluated on a regular basis.
- You MUST have a pair of back up glasses in the event that you can’t wear your contact lenses. Also be sure to take your glasses with you on any vacation or trip as you may need them.
- Any eyedrops you use can interact with contact lenses. It is best to avoid the use of eyedrops while the contact lenses are in, except for rewetting drops as recommended by your eye doctor. If you are using any other eye drop you must wait 10-15 minutes before inserting the contact lenses.
- Do not swim with your contact lenses on. Water is a major source of bacteria and is why we heavily chlorinate our pools and hot tubs. Even if you close your eyes while swimming water will still get in your eyes. You may gently wade in water but if splashed in the eyes you should replace your contacts. Never use contacts in a hot tub, as the evaporated water/steam will contaminate your contacts.
- You should never sleep in your contact lenses. The cornea (outside dome of your eye) doesn’t have any blood vessels in it for good reason, it allows us to see clearly and it gets its’ oxygen from the atmosphere. When you’re wearing contact lenses it reduces the oxygen getting to the cornea making it harder for it to “breath”. During the day the contact lens actually moves which helps, however at night with your eyes closed it essentially suffocates the cornea and can lead to long term complications.
- While many people safely use contact lenses, they do carry a risk of eye infections. Extended wearing, a reduced tear layer, swimming, sleeping, and poor hygiene will all contribute to a higher risk of eye infections. Be sure to use them wisely.
- The single best way to avoid eye infections is to follow proper contact lens care guidelines as prescribed by your eye care professional. This includes replacing the contacts as scheduled, using a “rub & rinse” step in lens cleaning, not allowing any water contact, and not sleeping in your contacts.
Steps in taking care of your contact lenses:
- Wash your hands before handling yoru contact lenses or touching your eye. Use soap that doesn’t contain any creams or perfumes as they may irritate the eye. Dry your hands with a lint free towel.
- Keep the sink drain closed when working with your contacts. If you should drop a lens on the sink or countertop be sure to clean the contact lens before re-attempting.
- After inserting your lenses, rinse your contact lens case with fresh solution, (NOT WATER), and leave it to air dry. Flip the case upside down and use the caps to prop it up to allow it to air dry without getting dust in it.
- Care should be taken when applying make-up, creams, or aerosols to avoid getting them in your eyes or contacts. Apply any make-up after inserting your contact lenses.
- If your lenses seem dry later in the day, try to get in the habit of using rewetting drops throughout the day as a preventative measure. Not all rewetting drops are safe for contacts so be sure to use the right one.
- If a contact lens is uncomfortable after inserting, remove it. Inspect the lens for any debris or tears and ensure it’s not inside out. Rinse it with CL solution and reinsert it. If it is still uncomfortable then remove the lenses and don’t wear them for the day. Try again the next day and if happens again you should immediately contact your eye doctor as you may have scratched your cornea.
- When you are ready to remove them be sure to wash your hands again. It is important to CLEAN YOUR LENSES WITH A GENTLE RUB when you remove them. It is not necessary to put heavy pressure on the lenses as you clean them. A gentle rub will remove protein deposits and greatly reduce the chance of infection. After cleaning, rinse the lenses with contact lens solution. DO NOT RINSE THEM WITH WATER.
- Store your contacts in fresh contact lens solution when you aren’t wearing them. Use new solution each time you store your lenses; do not “top off” your case. Use the solutions recommended by your doctor. All solutions are not created equal. Even if a generic solution says it’s equivalent, many times it’s not.
- DO NOT SLEEP IN YOUR CONTACT LENSES. Only specific contacts are FDA approved for extended wear, and unless discussed you should not sleep in your lenses.
- DO NOT SWIM IN YOUR CONTACT LENSES. Water has a lot of bacteria and if you get water on your lenses you’ll have a much higher risk of a bacterial infection.
- DO NOT USE SALIVA TO CLEAN OR RE-WET YOUR CONTACT LENSES. Saliva is not a sterile solution.
- DO NOT SHARE YOUR CONTACTS WITH OTHERS. Your contacts are made to fit your eyes with your prescription. You also do not want others to contaminate your lenses and give you an infection. Sharing is nice, but don’t share your contacts.