Not many of us know the dangers that are lurking behind our contact lenses. They might seem safe enough to the unwitting eye (excuse the pun) but they can be a key cause of infection if they’re not used properly.
Like with most things medical, it makes sense to follow the advice of a professional: in this case your optician.
When used safely and correctly, contact lenses can become your best friend.
Here’s our short guide to the top 5 dos and don’ts when it comes to contact lens wear.
1. Do take your contact lenses out before you go to sleep
Wearing your contact lenses when you go to sleep can increase your risk of your eyes swelling. This can cause problems such as bacterial infections and viral infections
Your eye is one of the only parts of your body to get its oxygen from the air. When you wear a contact lens the supply of oxygen it receives falls slightly. Closing your eye makes this oxygen level fall even more.
Combine the two and you could have a disaster waiting to happen. Why? Because when your eyes have less oxygen they become more prone to infection. Your eye isn’t as tough as the rest of your immune system, so bacteria can often gain an easy foothold here.
Taking your contact lenses out before you sleep will help to reduce the risk of an eye infection happening.
2. Do follow the advice and instructions given to you by your optician
Your optician will know the best routine you should follow to protect the health of your eyes when wearing contact lenses.
It will differ, depending on what type of contact lens you use, so it’s important to listen to the instructions that they give you. Doing so can help to protect your eyes and keep your vision healthy.
3. Do clean and store your contact lenses carefully
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise that cleaning and storing your contact lenses properly makes sense from a hygiene perspective. After all, would you really want to stick something that’s dirty and filled with all manner of germs and bacteria into your eye?
Cleaning and storing your contact lenses carefully is really important when it comes to reducing the risk of you developing an infection in your eye.
The exact cleaning and storage routine will be different depending on what type of contact lenses you have. Normally, most lenses will need to be kept in sterile solution overnight.
4. Do take your contacts out if they start to itch or irritate
Normally if your body itches or feels irritated in a particular area, we take notice! If your contact lenses are making your eyes itch or irritate it’s best to be cautious— always take them out if they causing your eyes to feel uncomfortable.
5. Do wash your hands before handling your contacts
Always clean your hands thoroughly before handling your contact lenses and make sure that you clean then from centre to edge. This will ensure they are clean and germ free.
6. Do be gentle with your eyes
You only have one pair of eyes, so take care of them! Also take extra care when putting your contact lenses in and taking them out.
Avoid overly pulling and dragging hard on the skin around your eyes and eyelids – this part of your face is super sensitive and should be handled delicately.
1. Don’t moisten your contacts with saliva
Your saliva is home to lots of bacteria— bacteria that could potentially cause infections in your eye.
To reduce the risk of this happening, never moisten your contact lenses with your saliva. Instead, always use contact lens solution.
2. Don’t use tap water to clean your contact lenses
You should only ever clean your contact lenses with special contact lens solution— anything else, like tap water, might contribute to the growth of bacteria that could damage your eye.
3. Don’t share your contact lenses with anybody else
Most people don’t share something as personal as a toothbrush, so why would you share something as personal as a contact lens?
Apart from not being customised to the unique needs of your eyes, lenses that another person has used might carry harmful bacteria that could end up causing real damage to your eyes— and potentially your vision.
4. Don’t wear lenses for longer than 8 hours of you can help it
It’s important to give your eyes a rest from contact lenses occasionally. A good way you can do this is making sure that you don’t wear your contact lenses for longer than 8 hours at a time and avoid wearing them seven days a week. Give your eyes a break for a day or two of the week.
5. Don’t use ‘monthlies’ for more than a month
Never use your ‘monthly’ contact lenses for longer than a month. Wearing contact lenses longer than they’re supposed to be worn can increase the risk of bacteria growing on your contact lenses, thus raising your risk of developing an infection.
6. Don’t put damaged contact lenses in your eyes
Forgive us for sounding patronising and making an obvious point, but if your contact is damaged— even a tiny bit— don’t put it in your eye.
A damaged contact lens can potentially cut the surface of your eye, causing long-term scarring and potentially damaging your vision for the rest of your life. Before you put a contact lens in, always examine it to check that it isn’t broken.
Your eyes are so important when it comes to how you experience the world around you. As one of your most precious senses, it makes sense to take as good care of your eyes as you can. At Optical Express we can help you do just that.
We are Europe's largest provider of laser eye surgery, with clinics nationwide. We offer a large range of contact lenses, including daily disposable lenses.