How to Take Care of Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are considered the most popular and safest devices used for vision correction.
Understanding the importance of lens care is the best way to prevent infection or serious eye diseases. Lens type and prescription strength greatly influence how contacts are cared for.
Disposable contacts are the easiest lenses to care for; simply throw them in the trash at the end of each day. Extended wear contacts are made to wear up to a month at a time, so they require a strict daily care regimen.
Risks of Improper Contact Lens Care
Improper lens care can damage eyes in many ways. For instance, if contacts are worn for too long it deprives eyes of oxygen or if they aren’t properly cleaned a film made of proteins and bacteria can form. Bacteria and protein buildup can lead to infection and other major eye problems.
Improper lens care is the leading cause of a condition known as Keratitis. It occurs when bacteria and fungus invade the cornea, the thin mucous membrane that covers the eye. Symptoms of Keratitis may include pain and swelling of the eye and eyelids, itchiness, redness and corneal scarring. Following proper contact care techniques may help avoid these risks.
Before Handling Contacts Lenses
Use any hair products, especially aerosols, before contact insertion, to avoid spraying the lenses.
Don’t apply lotion or perfume by hand until after the contacts are safely inserted or removed. Certain products may cause irritation to the eye if they come in contact with the lenses.
Always wash hands with a mild, unscented soap and rinse thoroughly, making sure no residue is left behind. Dry hands with a clean, lint-free towel.
Inserting Contact Lenses
For first time users, putting in contacts can be a bit uncertain, but it becomes much easier with practice. Follow these steps:
- To avoid mixing up the contacts, always take one contact at a time out of the case. Start with the right one, then the left. Contacts are rarely the same prescription strength for both eyes. Switching them may cause temporary sight problems.
- Use contact solution to carefully clean the lenses. Be careful not to let them slip out of your hands. Also, avoid cleaning contacts directly over an unplugged sink.
- Carefully place the first lens on the tip of your index finger, while holding your top and bottom eyelids open with the other hand.
- While looking up, place the contact on the lower part of your eye. Close your eye and let the contact settle in.
- Repeat the same steps for the second lens.
Taking out the contacts isn’t much different than putting them in. Make sure your hands a clean and dry. While looking up, use one hand to hold your upper and lower eyelids open. Then, use your index finger to lightly touch the lens. It should come right out. Make sure to put it on the right side of the container. Then, repeat these steps for the left contact.
Caring for Contact Lenses
Proper lens care begins with following the instructions provided by the doctor or pharmacist. Each prescription may require different cleansing products, such as disinfectant soaking solutions, contact lens cleaner, or eye drops.
Neglecting to clean your contacts may lead to serious consequences, such as scraping or tearing of the eye’s surface, infection, disease, or vision loss.
Clean contacts using the following steps:
- Fill both the right and left sides of the contact case with disinfecting solution.
- Hold contact in the palm of your hand. Use the index finger on your other hand to gently rub the lens in a circular motion. Turn the contact over and clean the other side.
- Carefully place it in the case and close the lid.
- Repeat these steps for the other contact lens.
More Tips for Contact Lens Care
Always keep a pair of glasses handy in case you lose a contact or your eyes need a break. Avoid sleeping with contact lenses in unless your doctor gives approval.
A lot of contaminants live in water, so avoid wearing your contacts in the shower, while swimming, or while soaking in a hot tub. Never place contact lenses in your mouth to clean them. Saliva contains several germs that may lead to serious infections.