Your vision is not something to mess around with. Most of us use our eyes all day long, so it’s easy to take them for granted. Your eyes are complex, sensitive organs that are uniquely vulnerable to injury and infection, and wearing contact lenses increases your risk of potentially dangerous eye problems. However, if you practice consistent, hygienic habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of complications from contact lenses and keep your eyes safe.
If you wear contacts, you likely already know the basic principles of proper care: keep them clean, don’t wear them beyond the period prescribed by your doctor, wash them with solution using clean hands and fingers, etc. However, according to a 2017 CDC study and other available research, many contact-lens wearers still either practice bad habits or don’t know about certain good habits. In fact, only 2% of the approximately 400 participants in an earlier CDC study regularly adhered to the rules of safe and healthy contact lens use. Today, we’re highlighting some bad habits that are common among the lens-wearing public and telling you how to avoid them.
- Keep your contacts away from water.
Don’t swim or shower while wearing your contacts, and never use tap water to clean them. Acanthamoeba and other tiny organisms found in tap water and lakes can make their way into your eyes and cause a nasty eye infection, and a serious infection in your cornea can cause temporary, extended, or even permanent vision loss. Furthermore, although there are some supposedly safe DIY substitution ideas floating around online, the only thing you can safely replace your contact solution with is a new bottle of contact solution.
- Don’t sleep in your contacts.
Some extended-wear contacts are technically Federal Drug Administration-approved to be worn overnight, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best idea. No matter what type of contacts you use, sleeping in them increases the risk of eye infection and can lead to corneal ulcers.
- Replace the contact solution in your lens case each time you use it.
One of the most commonly practiced bad habits of contact lens wearers is “topping off” their solution, i.e. adding solution to their lens case without first emptying it. Many people simply don’t realize that it’s unhygienic to fill up their lens case before removing yesterday’s solution, so it’s an understandable error.
- Treat your lens case with respect.
Always wash your lens case with contact solution. For the same reasons you should steer clear of the pool while wearing contacts (amoebas), you should also avoid rinsing your lens case with tap water. Many contact-lens wearers don’t realize the importance of replacing their lens case every 3 months, but it’s one of the most essential lens-hygiene habits you can practice. Contact lens cases aren’t expensive, so we recommend stocking up on a year’s supply when you make your annual visit to the eye doctor.
- Wash your hands each time you handle your contacts or touch your eyes.
We all know this one, but some of us aren’t following the rules as consistently as we should be. Lotion, food, dust, dirt, and other hand-borne contaminants can irritate, infect, and/or damage your eyes. So whenever you handle your contact lenses, make sure your hands are clean.
At Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons, we provide all the information and assistance you need to make sure you’re practicing safe eyecare. If you’re interested in getting a new contact-lens prescription, or in any of the many services we offer, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons today. Be sure to follow Dr. Segal and Dr. Lay on Facebook for more tips for healthy eyes.