When you first start to wear contact lenses, you may find the process of inserting and removing them a little nerve-wracking. But before long, it becomes such a normal part of your routine that there’s the risk of becoming too relaxed about the process and cutting corners.
Wearing contact lenses opens up a huge amount of visual freedom, but it also puts the eyes at risk of infections and abrasions, so contact lens wearers need to take extra care of their eye health.
Following these simple tips for contact lens care can help you keep your eyes healthy.
- Wash your hands before touching your contacts so that you don’t transfer any bacteria from your hands into your eyes. Flicking your hands to dry them, rather than drying them on a towel, helps you avoid getting lint in your eye.
- Check the lens isn’t inside out. Place the lens on your finger and look at it side-on. If the edges are flared outwards, it is inside out. An inside-out lens won’t damage your eye, but it may be uncomfortable and blur your vision.
- Check your contacts for damage. A tear or scratch in your contact lens can cause eye irritation and make it hard to see. Keeping your fingernails short helps you avoid ripping or scratching your contacts while handling them.
- Keep eye drops handy. Contact lenses may make your eyes feel a little drier than they would normally, and this can be exacerbated by air conditioning and heating. Use preservative-free artificial tears regularly to keep your eyes well-moisturised.
- Take your time removing your lenses. When it comes to taking your contacts out, slow and steady is the safest bet to avoid scratching your eyes.
- Use fresh cleaning solution every day. Contact lens solution removes bacteria and debris so you don’t transfer it to your eyes. But if you reuse the same solution for days at a time or leave it sitting around in a warm area, it becomes ineffective.
- Thoroughly clean and dry the storage container after each use. Bacteria love moisture, so this is a necessary step to avoid getting an eye infection. Replace your case regularly.
- Only wear contacts for the recommended time. This goes for how long you wear your contacts each day and how long you reuse them (if they are fortnightly or monthly). Over-wearing your contacts puts you at risk of permanent damage to your cornea.
- Never fall asleep with your contacts in. This is really bad for your eyes and can lead to oxygen starvation of the cornea as well as redness, eye strain, pain or increased sensitivity to light.
- Take a break from contacts if your eyes are irritated. This is a sign that your body is rejecting the contact lens. It may be because of an infection or the contact lens may have a tear. The checklist for safe contact lens wear is to think each day “Do my eyes: Look Good, Feel Good, See Good”. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you and if your eyes don’t feel or look right then take your contacts out.
If you’re having any trouble or issues we recommend you visit your optometrist, or find an optometrist near you here. The simplest way to avoid issues with contact lenses is to follow the hygiene and handling requirements of lenses and cleaning instructions very closely, and to have a regular eye health checkup.