Do you wear contact lenses? You’re not alone, because about 45 million Americans wear contacts to correct vision. While contact lenses are safe, effective, and convenient, they can also cause painful and potentially dangerous eye infections.
Dr. Jennifer Andrews, OD at Urban Eye Care in Seattle, WA is an expert optometrist who wants you to get the most out of your contact lenses without experiencing eye infections that cause pain and irritation. Here are some tips on how to prevent contact-related eye problems.
1. Clean hands are a must
Germs on your hands, which land on your contact lenses, are a prime cause of eye infections. Develop the habit of washing your hands before touching your contact lenses and putting them close to your eyes. This is the best and simplest way to prevent eye infections.
To wash your hands effectively, lather soap on hands moistened with water, and scrub both backs and fronts, including between fingers, for 30-60 seconds at least. Then, dry your hands with a clean and lint-free towel.
Wearing contacts in any kind of water, even chlorinated pools, increases your risk of contracting Acanthamoeba keratitis, a severe eye infection caused by an amoeba that swims in water. This infection is rare, but it is extremely painful and hard to treat. In the worst cases, the infection can cause blindness.
To help prevent this dangerous infection, don’t wear your contacts while showering, bathing, or swimming.
3. Remove contacts before sleep
Sleeping in contacts increases the risk of contracting microbial keratitis, a corneal infection.
Even if you wear FDA-approved, extended-wear contact lenses, you should remove them before napping or sleeping. In fact, research shows that people who wear their contacts to bed are up to eight times more likely to develop microbial keratitis than those who remove them before sleeping.
4. Be kind to your contacts
To keep your eyes healthy, clean contacts daily.
Many people think rinsing their contacts in a disinfectant solution and soaking them overnight is the best way to clean them between each use. But research shows that isn’t so. The most effective way to remove microbes from your contacts is to place them in the palm of your hand along with fresh, store-bought cleaning solution; rub them clean with your finger tips; and rinse them with a store-bought disinfecting solution.
Never store your contacts in water or use a homemade saline solution to clean them. Instead, store your contacts in fresh, store-bought solution. Don’t mix fresh solution with used solution, as this reduces its germ-killing power and increases the risk of infection.
5. Protect your lens case
Take good care of your lens case, because contacts won’t stay clean if their case is dusty, dirty, or wet. Cases that aren’t cleaned properly can form an invisible layer of biofilm that can become a prime breeding ground for germs.
Be sure to wash your hands before you clean your case. Then clean the case by rubbing and rinsing it with fresh, store-bought lens solution. And, just as you wouldn’t use water to clean your contacts, don’t use water to clean your case.
Dry your case with a clean, lint-free towel. Store the case upside-down, with caps off, until its next use.
Be sure to replace your lens case at least every three months, because even with proper cleaning and care, cases overtime still can become contaminated with microscopic germs.
To learn more about the steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy, call Urban Eye Care at 206-344-2020, or book an appointment online.