As someone who wears contact lenses, you touch and interact with your eyes more often than the average individual. You also insert foreign objects into your eyes each day. For these reasons, you are at an increased risk for infections, corneal scratches, and other ocular ailments.
While contacts are safe when worn and handled appropriately, many patients are not as careful as they should be with their contacts and their eyes. The following are six ways you can take better care of your eyes as a contact lens wearer.
1. Change Your Contacts on Schedule
As you wear contacts, proteins build up on the contact surface and make the lens less permeable, which will dry out your eyes. When wearing a protein-coated lens, you are at an increased risk for corneal infection, as certain infectious bacteria thrive in the absence of air.
Different types of lenses build up protein at different rates. Some lenses, for example, need to be replaced every two weeks due to buildup; others last two months.
Replace your lenses on schedule as recommended by your eye doctor. If you have a tough time remembering to change your lenses, consider switching to daily lenses. Many patients find it easier to simply use a new set of lenses each day than to store lenses and remember to change them.
2. Clean Your Case With Contact Solution
Many patients do not rinse their case every day, but this step is important to reduce the risk of infection. Always rinse your case with contact solution and then let it air dry between uses. Do not rinse your case with tap water. Tap water may contain a germ called acanthamoeba, which causes very severe eye infections.
3. Replace Your Case Every Three Months
Even if you are meticulous about cleaning your case, you should still replace it with a new one every three months. Many bottles of contact solution come with free cases, which makes it easier to remember to switch.
You could also stock up on cases in advance and then set a reminder in your phone to replace the case every three months. Some patients like to replace their toothbrush and contact case at the same time.
4. Wash Your Hands Before Touching Your Eyes or Contacts
Even if you just need to fish a stray eyelash out of your eye or add some contact solution to your case, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water first. There are almost always infectious bacteria and fungi on your hands, and all it takes is one slip-up to cause an eye infection.
5. Don't Wear Contacts if Your Eyes Feel Irritated
Even if you strongly prefer to wear contact lenses, you need to have an updated pair of prescription glasses on hand, too. If your eyes are at all irritated, red, or sore, wear your glasses instead of your contacts. Whether the irritation is caused by allergies, infection, or screen fatigue, contacts will only make it worse.
6. Carry Eye Drops With You
Especially if you spend a long time staring at computer screens, venturing outside on the wind, or sitting in front of a heating vent, your eyes may start to feel dry when wearing contacts. "Suffering through" dry lenses increases your risk of infection and corneal scratches. Always carry a bottle of contact-safe, lubricating eye drops with you, and use them at the first sign of dryness.
If you follow the tips above, you can enjoy lasting eye health as a contact lens wearer. Contact Hummel Eye Associates if you have any additional concerns about wearing contacts or would like to learn more about switching to contact lenses.