6 Dangerous Mistakes Contact Lens Wearers Make
If you wear contact lenses, you may be making one or more of these dangerous mistakes that put your eyes and vision at risk.
Proper contact lens hygiene is no place to cut corners. When you don’t take care of your lenses, you put yourself at risk for a range of eye health problems ranging from mild and temporary to severe and permanent. Eye infections due to poor lens care can lead to irreversible damage to your vision, corneal scarring, the need for corneal transplants, and more. Contact lenses are a safe and effective form of vision correction when you avoid these six common mistakes. However, by following instructions to the letter, you dramatically reduce your risk.
- Sleeping in your lenses
To function optimally and fight off infection, your eyes require both hydration and oxygen. When you’re awake, blinking keeps your eyes lubricated, and your tears carry oxygen all over the surface of your eyes. Your eyes also get oxygen from the air when they are open. Contact lenses can decrease the amount of moisture and oxygen that can reach your eyes. When the eyes are closed at night, this further reduces the oxygen arriving to the eye. You may be exhausted at night, but you should take just one more minute to remove your lenses before crashing. If you do fall asleep with your lenses, make sure to put a few drops in before removing them. Contact your eye care practitioner if you have any pain, redness or blurry vision.
- Touching your lenses with dirty hands
You must maintain a consistent habit of washing your hands before you touch your contact lenses. When you skip this step – even once – you run the risk of transferring dirt, oil, and bacteria to your lenses. Keep in mind that contact lenses are already foreign bodies in your eyes. You don’t want to add contaminants to the mix – by doing so, you can increase your chances of developing an infection.
- Not changing your solution every day
You wouldn’t wash your clothes in dirty water. In the same way, you shouldn’t soak your contact lenses in yesterday’s solution. Every time you put your lenses on, rinse the case with fresh saline, dry it with a clean tissue, and store it open and upside down to dry until you’re ready to remove your contacts. Then, fill it with fresh saline solution (never water) and place your lenses inside.
- Swimming and showering in your lenses
Any water, including pool water, lake water, and tap water, may contain potentially dangerous microorganisms that can cause infection, including a rare and vision-threatening amoeba known as Acanthamoeba. Parasites and bacteria can become trapped under your lenses, putting your eyes at risk. If you are a swimmer, it may be a good idea to invest in prescription goggles to protect your eyes. Disposable contact lenses should be discarded after swimming with them. This is an advantage of using daily-disposable contact lenses.
- You extend the replacement schedule
Never keep lenses past their expiration date. Daily contact lenses are the easiest way to avoid infection because they eliminate germ buildup by being disposed of at the end of each day. Whatever type of lenses you have, be sure to follow instructions on how long to wear them and when to discard them. After the lens expires, the material may perform less well and may not be as permeable to oxygen.
- You aren’t rubbing your lenses when you clean them
Even if you are using soft lenses that are not daily-disposable, a no-rub solution, you should still rub your lenses gently when you remove them to clean them as effectively as possible. This study showed that rubbed lenses are cleaner, regardless of the type of cleaning solution used. Make sure that your hands are clean, and then place your lens in the palm of your hand and rub it with the fingers of your other hand to remove germs and protein buildup. Then, let your lenses soak in fresh solution overnight to remove any debris you might have missed and ensure that your contacts stay clean and that your eyes stay as healthy as possible.