Contact lens wearers need to take the proper care both of their lenses and hygiene of eyes. The lenses are in direct contact with the eyes and if they are not maintained/cleaned well then you can suffer from eye infections. The CDC reports that people do not seem to understand the risk that they take by not taking the prescribed care for their lenses.
Contacts are delicate optical aids, which provide effective and safe vision correction. Many people use them for cosmetic purposes as well. Whatever the purpose of use, the need for proper methods of wearing, cleaning, storing and disinfecting contact lenses is same for all. Otherwise, you may suffer from infection or inflammation which can be quite painful and disrupt your daily routine.
Not only that, but you must take particular care of your eye hygiene if you wear contact lenses regularly. The lenses are in direct contact with the eyeballs, and if any infection due to lack of eye hygiene occurs, then you will suffer immense discomfort, tearing, inflammation and make endless trips to the doctor.
Here are a few simple ways in which you can care for your lenses, as well as your eyes so that you can wear your lenses with comfort:
Every time you remove or put in the lens, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water to get rid of the germs, dust etc. on your hands. Always dry your hands before touching the contacts as water should not touch the lenses.
Use eyelid wipes/soft eyelid cleansers
One of the best things you can do for your eye health is to clean them with eyelid wipes or soft eyelid cleansers to remove any lurking dust, parasites, or germs. Do this twice a day, before putting in your contacts and after taking them off. Eye infections such as blepharitis can be prevented by a daily eye cleaning routine, preferably with eye friendly products containing Tea Tree Oil and without alcohol or parabens and other harmful chemicals.
People who wear contacts must take eye hygiene seriously or else the infection could be aggravated when they wear the lens.
Clean lenses with multipurpose solution
Use the doctor prescribed multi-purpose solution to clean the lenses. Put the contacts on your palm and moisten the lens with a little of the multi-purpose solution. These solutions are also known as ‘no rub’ solutions, meaning you do not have to rub the lenses with the solutions.
Put in the lenses
Using a saline drop in each of the lenses, put them in the eye. This step will ensure the contacts will be clean of all dust and debris and will not cause discomfort or infection in the eyes.
Change the solution in the case
Before removing the lenses, first replace the solution in the case. Topping up the solution is a strict no-no. Never mix the fresh solution with used or old solution.
Remove lenses after washing hands
Wash the hands thoroughly with soap and water and then remove the contacts gently. Place them in the case which has fresh solution.
Lubricate the eyes
Use the doctor prescribed eye lubricant after you remove the lenses before sleeping at night. This will keep your cornea moist and prevent conditions like dry eye, red eye etc.
Never sleep in your lenses – increases infection risk from six-eight-fold.
In exceedingly rare cases, people are asked to sleep in their lenses, by their doctors. Otherwise, never sleep in your contacts. It has been found in many studies that sleeping in lenses can irreparably damage your vision. If you wear them continuously without disinfecting them, you may end up in the emergency condition. Corneal abrasion, corneal ulcer and open sore can form on the cornea, which requires immediate surgery.
Never swim or shower wearing contacts
Remove your contacts before getting in the swimming pool or hot tub/tubs, as water can damage the lenses. There was a case which was reported in the Ophthalmology journal about a 34 year old man who slept and swam in his lenses, several times a week. He developed a rare eye infection called acanthamoeba keratitis, which required months of antibacterial and antiviral topical treatment, after which his vision was restored.
Replace contact lenses case periodically
Clean by rubbing and rinsing the case with the lens solution, and then dry with tissue paper. Place them upside down after removing the caps every time you use the contacts. Replace the case every three months.
Give rest to your eyes
Contact lenses cover the cornea, a transparent tissue which covers the eyes. While wearing contacts, air cannot reach the cornea. In case of overwearing, the cornea which is starved for oxygen, starts to grow new blood-vessels and eye inflammation can occur. Lipids deposits also occur in cornea, affecting vision. Thus, to protect your eyes, you should not wear contacts continuously. Allow oxygen to reach the cornea and stay safe.
Disinfect before use every time
If you happen to wear lenses sporadically, then clean the lenses the previous night, to get rid of any microbial growth on the lens and case. Even if you don’t wear them regularly, make a habit of cleaning them regularly, to avoid danger of infection.
Wear after proper prescription and fitting
Colored contact lenses are trendy and fashionable. But it is not an accessory which should be bought over the counter. They should be prescribed by your eye doctor, and only buy lenses which are of good quality.
Things to remember:
- Never over-wear, sleep or swim in lenses
- Follow eye hygiene habits such as cleaning with eyelid wipes or soft eye shampoo daily
- Never use tap water to clean your contact lenses
- Never reuse the cleaning solution
- Always wash hands before you handle contact lenses.
The above rules are a part of eye hygiene for those who use contact lens. If you are consistent and meticulous about the care of your eyes and your lenses, and establish a daily hygiene routine, then you can prevent eye infections which can potentially lead to vision impairment. Any eye pain, redness, blurred vision, and discomfort should not be neglected. Immediately remove the lenses and contact your eye doctor.
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