The Dangerous Mistakes of Contact Lens Users
Sometimes, wearing and taking care of contact lenses can be frustrating when you're a busy person. You might start to wonder, what's the harm in taking a few shortcuts in your recommended contact lens routine when time is an issue?
Unfortunately, the guidelines for proper contact lens care are strict and detailed because they have to be. Not following the right steps to keeping your contact lenses clear of dirt, parasites, and bacteria as you wear and store them can permanently damage your eyesight.
Read through this list, and you might just discover some mistakes you're making with your lenses on a regular basis before they start to hurt you. Contact lens injuries and infections are preventable if you follow the rules for contact lens care!
Not Washing Hands Before Handling Contact Lenses
You would be surprised by how many people are tempted to skip or rush this in a hurry. Keeping your hands freshly washed then dried with a lint-free towel before you insert or remove contact lenses is an important way to prevent scratches and infections. You can't possibly remove every last germ or hard-to-see speck of debris, but washing hands before handling contact lenses definitely helps.
Using Tap Water or Saliva To Clean Your Lenses
Even if it's an emergency, you're better off throwing away and replacing a soft contact lens than using tap water or your own spit to try and clean it! Saliva is obviously full of bacteria that you don't want anywhere near your precious eyes, and tap water may contain Acanthamoeba, parasites that cause infections and serious damage.
With these painful parasites, contact lenses become the main way they further their growth in the eye as they feed on surface bacteria. You might even end up needing a corneal transplant if you get a bad case of Acanthamoeba keratitis, so it's not something you want to risk under any circumstances. Your best weapon against future problems from contact lens parasites is to clean your lenses properly, by rubbing them with a sterile, disinfecting solution
every time they need it.
Showering and Swimming With Contact Lenses Inserted
You can get Acanthamoeba in your eyes when you wear contact lenses while you swim or shower too, so your safest bet is to avoid water around your eyes in general when you have lenses inserted. Only approved eyedrops and disinfecting solutions should go anywhere near your contact lenses!
Not Cleaning or Replacing Your Case
If you aren't keeping your contact lens case clean and replacing it on a regular basis, then all your work of trying to keep your contact lenses clean after wearing them is going to waste since they'll just get dirty all over again when you next put them away.
The safest way to keep your case clean is with the same solution you use for your actual lenses. You should always dump out any old solution from the night before, and rub the inner walls of each well with your fingers to dislodge dirt or bacteria before rinsing with new solution. Then, allow the case to air-dry.
Lens cases need to be replaced every three months at the very least, though once a month is strongly recommended.
Sleeping In Contact Lenses
Some brands are approved by the FDA for overnight wear, but sleeping in contact lenses can still be risky as it deprives the corneas of oxygen they need. Infections and irritation are more common among contact lens users who fall asleep without removing them, so you should try to remember to take them out and clean them before you go to bed. Write a note and post it on your bathroom mirror to remind you if you find yourself sleeping in contact lenses often!
Overall, contact lenses are very safe to use under the guidance of your doctor but you have to remember just how important it is to keep up with every detail of your care instructions, no matter how inconvenient they might be. If you don't have the time or energy to make sure you can follow your contact lens care instructions closely, then glasses or laser eye surgery might be better options for you.