Contact lenses have made life easier for many. But every good thing comes with a cost and contact lenses are not an exception.
When you take your contact lenses lightly, you end up making several common mistakes that could be hurting your eyes.
According to a 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all of the 41 million estimated contact lens wearers in the U.S. may be practicing at least one behavior known to increase their risk of eye infections.
The report also pointed out that nearly one-third of contact lens wearers who participated in a national survey reported going to the doctor for red or painful eyes related to wearing contact lenses.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has several safety recommendations for people who wear contact lenses.
For all contact lenses users, it is important to have knowledge about the safety measures and also what common mistakes you may be making. This will help you avoid mistakes in the future and protect your vision.
Here are the common mistakes people make with contact lenses that could damage your eyes.
1. Wearing Contacts for Too Long
Wearing contacts for too long is bad for your vision health. It can lead to permanent scarring and even loss of vision.
Contacts sit on top of your corneas, which do not have blood vessels to bring oxygen to them. It is the tears that do this important job. But tears cannot reach your corneas while you’re wearing contacts, as they act as a shield. By removing your contacts from time to time, you allow oxygen to reach the corneas.
Prolonged wearing of contacts also make your corneas more vulnerable to germs.
No matter what type of contacts you have, avoid wearing them too long. This is a simple and effective way to reduce your risk for infection.
2. Sleeping in Your Contacts
The habit of sleeping with your contacts in your eyes is another big mistake people often make.
It is not at all safe to sleep with your contacts in. Extended wear deprives the corneas of oxygen, which can lead to irritation and discomfort, and even a serious infection. In fact, it is common for users who sleep with their lenses in to wake up with dry eyes and blurry vision.
Plus, you can even lose a contact lens in the back of your eye because of movement when you sleep.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Optometry found that sleeping in contacts was the probable main cause of microbial keratitis.
A 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 25 percent of eye infections are due to modifiable risk factors. Among these factors, one was occasionally sleeping in contacts.
3. Wearing Your Contacts in Water
Whether it’s the swimming pool, a hot tub or the shower, exposing your contacts to any kind of water is something you should avoid at any cost.
Water is a breeding ground for different types of bacteria and other harmful pathogens that can lead to eye infections. In severe cases, it can even lead to vision loss.
Also, exposure to water can dehydrate your contacts.
You should remove your contact lenses before going in any water. Also, you must never store your contacts in water. Always use sterile saline solution recommended by your doctor.
4. Using Tap Water to Clean Contacts
Using tap water to clean your contacts is another big mistake that most users make.
Tap water is not sterile and cleaning your contacts in it can lead to bacteria and other harmful pathogens clinging on the lenses. In fact, tap water is known to contain an amoeba that can cause Acanthamoeba keratitis, a hard-to-treat eye infection.
Also, by avoiding rinsing your lenses in tap water, you will prevent your corneas from getting inflamed or scarred, which can impair vision.
Always wash your contacts in appropriate solution that is recommended by your eye doctor. It is best to always carry contact-friendly eye drops or a travel-sized contact lens solution with you.
5. Wearing Your Contacts Past the Expiration Date
Everything comes with an expiration date, including your contact lenses.
Old, expired lenses become a breeding ground for germs. With use, they also accumulate a buildup of proteins and other residue. Wearing such lenses can be uncomfortable, or worse, it can lead to infection.
Never risk your eye health to prolong the use of a pair of contacts. By wearing old contact lenses, you are not saving money, instead you are calling for expensive medical bills.
6. Handling Lenses with Unclean Hands
Contact lens wearers often forget to wash their hands before handling the lenses. To avoid getting germs into your eyes, it is imperative that you wash your hands thoroughly before touching your contact lenses, even the case.
Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before handling your contact lenses.
Also, make sure you dry your hands thoroughly before handling your contact lenses because the microbes that cause eye infections are present in water as well.
7. Wearing Contacts even When Your Eyes Hurt
Make sure to immediately take off your lenses if you notice symptoms like redness, itching, swelling and burning in the eyes.
Do not, in any case, suffer through the discomfort wearing your lenses and risk developing an infection.
At times, your eyes may be hurting due to something wrong in the lenses. Remove your contacts immediately and inspect them carefully for any signs of chips or tearing. If there is still any part of your lenses remaining in your, see an optometrist right away.
8. Improper Care of Contact Lenses and Storage Cases
Both your contact lenses and storage case need proper care and handling.
In fact, one of the biggest mistakes that contact lens users make is that they don’t diligently follow the instructions on handling contacts and cases.
Not following proper care and safety measures puts you at a higher risk of damaging your lenses, or even worse, making yourself vulnerable to serious eye infections.
- Clean your contact lenses with the recommended solution daily. Always wash your hands before handling your contacts. After cleaning, store them in a case with fresh solution.
- Disinfecting the storage case is also very important, as harmful organisms can grow in the case. Putting your cleaned contact lenses in a dirty case is something you should avoid. Clean your storage case with a sterile solution recommended by your eye doctor. Dry it with a clean, lint-free towel or let it air-dry before using it again.
- Contact lens cases should be replaced at least every three months.
9. Mixing Fresh Solution with the Used One in the Case
This is another common mistake that contact lens wearers make. People often “top off” or mix fresh contact lens solution with old or used solution in the case for ease.
However, this is an unhealthy practice as it causes the disinfectant to lose its effectiveness. This in turn increases your chances of developing an eye infection.
Always replace the solution instead of topping it off. In fact, you also need to rinse it with the fresh solution and dry the case with a fresh tissue or else there will be a buildup of biofilm at the bottom.
10. Avoiding Eye Checkups
Whether you wear contacts or glasses, it is important to get regular eye checkups.
Also, if you are experiencing any kind of discomfort with your eyes, even if it seems small, it’s important to consult your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Problems are easier to treat at the initial stage. The longer it goes on, the harder it is to treat.
So, if you have redness, burning, blurred vision or pain in your eyes, especially after using contact lenses, never ignore it and make an appointment quickly,
Also, it is vital for the health and safety of your vision to be checked regularly for updated types of lens, fit and prescription.
Tips for contact lens users
- Always remove your contacts before sleeping, showering or swimming.
- Rub and rinse your contacts in disinfecting solution each time you remove them.
- Wash and rinse the case with contact lens solution after each use.
- Always carry a backup pair of glasses, in case you have to take out your contact lenses.
- You should always put your makeup on after inserting your contacts.
- Avoid using eye makeup remover or even facial cleanser while your contacts are in.
- Avoid wearing your contacts when your eyes are visibly irritated.
- Do not rub your eyes while you are wearing your lenses, as it can cause tears in your cornea.
- Visit your eye doctor every year.
- Buy your contact lenses from a trusted source.
- Never share contact lenses with another person.