Is Contact Lens Safety Important?

by May 27, 2020

Contact lens safety is always important in order to prevent infections, promote good ocular health, and improve comfort while wearing contact lenses.  Now, in the COVID-19 pandemic, contact lens safety is even more important.  The American Optometrist Association has assured us that wearing contact lenses is safe during this time, but it is vital to follow proper protocol and cleaning standards to keep our eyes, and our bodies, safe and healthy.  Most people are thoroughly trained on how to care for and handle your lenses when you first received them, but now is a good time to review the basics.

Wash Your Hands

Thoroughly washing your hands before inserting and removing your contact lenses is essential.  Hands should be washed for 20 seconds using warm soap and water and thoroughly dried.  Avoid using alcohol-based hand sanitizer before handling contact lenses, as this can cause significant irritation and discomfort. 

Take Your Lenses Out at Night

Sleeping in your contact lenses increases your risks of infection or damage.  If your lenses are not approved for overnight wear, they should never be slept in.  Even if your lenses are approved for occasional overnight wear, doctors agree that taking the lenses out at night is a safer option. 

Replace Your Lenses as Directed

Don’t try to stretch your monthly lenses into 2-month lenses, or your daily lenses into weekly lenses.  Like sleeping in your contacts, this will significantly increase your risk of complications like infections or inflammation.  If you are running low on your lenses, call your doctor to order a new supply or schedule an exam. 

Clean Your Contact Lens Case

Contact lens cases can be a reservoir for build-up and bacteria.  You should regularly rinse out and clean your contact lens case, and remember to always dump out old solution after every use. 

Use an Appropriate Cleaning Solution

Tap water, saline solution, or saliva are not proper cleaning solutions, and using these can leave your eyes at risk.  Use an approved disinfecting solution to keep your lenses clean and bacteria-free.  Remember to rinse off and rub your lenses before storing them in a case with solution.  

Have a Plan-B

A back-up pair of glasses is always a good idea.  If your contact lenses are making your eyes uncomfortable, red, or painful, take them out and put on glasses instead before seeing your eye doctor.  

Why is Contact Lens Safety Important?

As we know, hand hygiene is important to keep our bodies safe and healthy.  Likewise, contact lens hygiene is essential in order to prevent sight-threatening complications.  Over-wearing contact lenses, or failing to properly clean and replace lenses, can cause the eye to become inflamed or irritated.  It can also deprive the eye of oxygen.  In the most devastating cases, poor contact lens hygiene can result in bacterial infections like corneal ulcers.   These infections are not only painful; they have the potential to permanently scar the surface of the eye.  Some specific bacteria, like the Acanthamoeba bacteria, is so harmful to the eye that it can cause permanent vision loss in a matter of hours.    

Properly cleaning, replacing, and storing your lenses can help protect you from these complications.  If you have any questions regarding contact lens care, our office is here to help. 

Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye disease. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about contact lens safety. Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Joseph Goldberg, and Karen Darrell provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.

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