Dos and Don'ts for Contact Lens Wearers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August 2015, almost all (99 percent) of the approximately 41 million people in the United States who wear contact lenses engage in at least one behavior related to their lenses that is known to increase eye infection risk. Risky behaviorswhich could cost you your sight in severe casesinclude the following:
- Using contact lens cases longer than recommended
- "Topping off" contact lens solution in your case instead of emptying it completely before refilling (Solution left in the case after a disinfection cycle are essentially "dirty.")
- Not removing contact lenses before going to sleep
According to the CDC, about 1 million people in the United States develop an eye infectionfor example, keratitis (infection of the cornea)each year. Wearing contacts is the primary risk factor for developing keratitis.
Serious eye infections can cause pain and vision loss, but most cases are easily treated by an eye care provider. Wearing and caring for contact lenses properly can help reduce the risk for eye infections and complications. Follow these dos and don'ts to protect your eyes.
- Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses to reduce the chance of getting an infection.
- Remove the lenses immediately and consult your eye care professional if your eyes become red, irritated, or your vision changes.
- Always follow the directions of your eye care professional and all labeling instruction for proper use of contact lenses and lens care products.
- Use contact lens products and solutions recommended by your eye care professional.
- Rub and rinse your contact lenses as directed by your eye care professional.
- Clean and disinfect your lenses properly following all labeling instructions provided with your lens care products.
- Clean, rinse, and air dry your lens case each time lenses are removed. You may want to flip over your lens case while air drying so that excess solution can drain out of the case. Contact lens cases can be a source of bacterial growth.
- Replace your contact lens storage case every 3–6 months.
- Don't use contact lens solutions that have gone beyond the expiration or discard date.
- Don't "top-off" the solutions in your case. Always discard all of the leftover contact lens solution after each use. Never reuse any lens solution.
- Don't expose your contact lenses to any water: tap, bottled, distilled, lake, or ocean water. Never use non-sterile water (distilled water, tap water, or any homemade saline solution). Exposure of contact lenses to water has been associated with Acanthamoeba keratitis, a corneal infection that is resistant to treatment and cure.
- Don't put your lenses in your mouth to wet them. Saliva is not a sterile solution.
- Don't transfer contact lens solutions into smaller travel size containers. This can affect the sterility of the solution which can lead to an eye infection. Transferring solutions into smaller size containers may also leave consumers open to accidentally using a solution that is not intended for the eyes.
Sources: FDA Consumer, June 16, 2009; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Updated by Remedy Health Media