Pausing Contact Lens Use During an Eye Infection

by Dec 6, 2023

An eye infection can be painful and inconvenient, and one key aspect of managing an infection is temporarily discontinuing contact lens use. The main cause of eye infections is often exposure to bacteria, which can occur from wearing old or improperly cleaned contact lenses or sleeping with lenses in. Even if the contact lenses were not the direct cause of the infection, wearing them during an active infection can impede the healing process and potentially lead to further complications. In this blog, we will explore the recommended duration for stopping contact lens wear when you have an eye infection and how this can contribute to a quicker and more effective recovery.


Understanding the Healing Process

Eye infections, with appropriate treatment, typically resolve within a week. However, it is essential to give your eyes the necessary rest and avoid contact lens use during this period. Continuing to wear contact lenses while an infection is active can exacerbate the symptoms, prolong the healing process, and increase the risk of reinfection.


Duration of Contact Lens Use Suspension

The duration of time you should stop wearing contact lenses when you have an eye infection can vary based on individual circumstances and the specific infection. It is imperative to consult with your eye doctor or healthcare professional for an accurate assessment and personalized guidance. Typically, the following guidelines apply:

Complete the full treatment period: Eye infections often require prescribed medications, such as antibiotic drops or ointments. It is essential to complete the full course of treatment as prescribed by the healthcare professional. This treatment period typically lasts for about a week.

Obtain an eye doctor’s clearance: After completing the treatment, it is crucial to schedule a follow-up examination with your eye doctor. They will evaluate the healing progress, ensure the infection has resolved, and provide guidance on when it is safe to resume contact lens wear.


Why Pause Contact Lens Use?

Pausing contact lens use during an eye infection is vital for several reasons:

Promoting healing: By removing contact lenses, you eliminate potential sources of irritation and allow your eyes to heal more effectively. The absence of contact lenses reduces the likelihood of further aggravating the infected area, allowing the immune system to combat the infection.

Avoiding complications: Continuing to wear contact lenses during an active infection can increase the risk of complications, such as corneal ulcers or prolonged inflammation. Furthermore, bacteria or fungi present on contact lenses can exacerbate the infection or lead to secondary infections.

Preventing reinfection: During an eye infection, the immune system is already compromised, making it more susceptible to reinfection. Pausing contact lens use helps minimize the risk of reintroducing bacteria or other pathogens, allowing your eyes to fully recover.


General Tips for Eye Infection Management

In addition to pausing contact lens use, the following tips can assist in managing and recovering from an eye infection:

Follow proper hygiene practices: Thoroughly wash your hands before touching your eyes or applying any prescribed eye drops or ointments. Avoid touching/rubbing your eyes excessively, as this can further irritate the infected area.

Clean and disinfect contact lenses: If you wear reusable contact lenses, follow the recommended cleaning and disinfection routine diligently to avoid contamination. Replace disposable lenses as instructed by your eye doctor.

Avoid swimming and hot tubs: Chlorinated water and hot tubs may contain bacteria or other microorganisms that can exacerbate or reinfect the eyes. It is best to avoid these activities until the infection has fully resolved.


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

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