Wearing contacts is a blessing and a curse.
For those people who don’t want to spend a lifetime wearing glasses, contacts are a wonderful alternative. Plus, there are some pretty neat designs out there that can change the color of your eye, enhance your natural color or make you look like the Mad Hatter.
On the other hand, contacts mean a lifetime of diligent eye care. Contacts are like petri dishes that hold bacteria that can cause eye irritation, infection and even vision loss. If you’re not careful, you could end up with both short- and long-term problems.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to protect your eye health and make wearing contacts comfortable and safe. But it starts with nixing the unhealthy habits right away. Let’s take a look at six major no-nos for all contact wearers.
1. Stop handling your contacts without washing your hands first.
Sure, it’s easy to do. You’re tired and just want to pop those babies right out, or you’re in a rush and stick them right in without even thinking about washing your hands. However, bacteria live on your hands and you’re transferring that bacteria to your lenses if you don’t wash them first.
2. Stop reusing contact solution (you’re not really saving yourself money).
Contact solution is very effective, but if you leave it sitting around, it loses its potency. This happens because bacteria can grow and then take over the solution, contaminating your lenses, and eventually, your eyes. Always use fresh solution.
3. Stop sticking your lens case in a musty drawer to dry.
Many patients stick their contact cases in a drawer or medicine cabinet to dry rather than letting them air dry. The thing is, bacteria love moisture, so leaving leftover contact solution in there can breed harmful bacteria. Leave your case out to air dry each day.
4. Stop letting your lens case be dirty.
Follow the directions that the manufacturer gives you. Some recommend washing the lens case once a week with warm water and soap, while others suggest rinsing the case out with fresh solution. Also, the American Optometric Association recommends replacing your lens case once every three months.
5. Stop sleeping in your contacts.
Unless specifically made for overnight wear, we do not recommend ever sleeping with your contacts in. Even the very best contacts can irritate your eyes and deprive them of oxygen, causing the cornea to swell. Also avoid over-wearing your contacts for long periods of time. Your eyes need periods of rest.
6. Stop going in water with your contacts in.
The shower, the swimming pool, the hot tub, etc. all have bacteria that can get onto your contact lenses. This bacteria can have devastating consequences, including vision loss and blindness. If you do get water on your contacts, take them out and disinfect them immediately.
Take contact wearing seriously. If you feel your eyes may be irritated due to your contact lenses, make an appointment with an eye specialist right away. Your vision is not something you want to lose because of poor hygiene or bad habits!