Wearing contact lenses is a lot like taking a prescription drug. Wearers must follow their eye care professional's recommendations in order to use them properly. Regular follow-up visits to check eye health is essential to problem free, long term contact lens wear.
The potential problems that contact lens wearers may experience from improper use include anything from itchy eyes, reddened eyes and eyes that feel tired -- to more serious vision problems. It is essential that you follow your eye care professional's directions and all labeling instructions for proper use of your lenses and lens care product, including the lens case.
The kinds of care that contacts require, and how long they should be worn, is something only your eye care professional can decide. Wear-and-care regimens depend upon the type of contacts prescribed, vision needs and personal eye health. Do not be discouraged if you have been told that you cannot wear contact lenses -- advances in contacts lens technology are enabling people who previously could not wear contact lenses to wear them comfortably and safely.
Consumers should check with their eye care professional about the eye care steps they should be following. (Many people who think they are taking proper care of their lenses may be surprised to find that they aren't.) Contact lens wearers should follow their eye care professional's directions completely and review them at each follow-up office visit.
Contact lens manufacturers continue to stress the importance of proper contact lens wear and care. These efforts include providing detailed instructions that provide important health and safety information, and stress the importance of proper wear and care.
Consumers who wear and care for their contact lenses properly will experience few problems.
Practice Good Hygiene
Ideally, nothing but a fresh, clean lens should ever be in contact with your eyes. But dust, dirt, and other foreign substances can contaminate the surface of your lenses, as well as your lens storage case. Here are ways you can avoid some common pitfalls:
- Before handling your lenses, always wash, rinse and dry your hands. Use a mild soap for washing and a lint-free towel for drying your hands
- Avoid getting lotions, creams or sprays in your eyes or on your lenses. Lenses should be inserted before applying makeup and removed before removing makeup. Oil-based makeup is more likely to damage your lenses than water-based cosmetics.
- Do not use saliva, tap water, homemade saline solution or anything other than the recommended solutions to wet your lenses.
- Empty and rinse your lens case every day with fresh sterile rinsing solution. Allow the case to remain open so it can air dry.
- Never reuse the solution in your lens case. Replace your lens case at least every three months.
Use Solutions as Instructed
With the array of lens care solutions now available, it helps to know the purpose of each. Some solutions are designed to perform more than one of these functions:
Cleaning Solution removes dirt, mucus, and debris that accumulate on the lenses during wear.
Rinsing Solution removes other solutions and debris from the lenses. It is also used to prepare the lenses for wearing.
Disinfecting Solution kills bacteria on the lenses which could cause eye infections.
Multi-Purpose Solution cleans, rinses and disinfects the lenses.
Rewetting Solution lubricates the lenses while you're wearing them. This can enhance the comfort of your lenses throughout the day.
Use only fresh, sterile solutions for cleaning, rinsing and disinfecting. If your solution has expired, throw it away. Solutions may become contaminated after opening; do not touch open bottle tips to any surfaces. Some solutions should never be used in combination with each other, so use only those recommended by your eyecare professional. Finally, don't switch solution brands without your eyecare professional's approval.
Make Annual Eye Exams Part of Your Program
Frequent eye exams are indispensable to your eye health. Since the eye is a sensitive organ, it undergoes many changes over a lifetime - changes that may be imperceptible to you, but which can lead to difficulties if left undetected. Only your eyecare professional has the specialized knowledge and precision instrumentation available to evaluate the general health of your eyes, as well as the effectiveness of your contact lenses.
Seeing 20/20 isn't the only reason to have an eye exam. During the course of an annual exam, your eyecare professional may not only tell you about the health of your eyes, but also about your health in general. Your eyecare professional may detect the early onset of certain diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts, as well as diabetes, high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis - just by examining your eyes.
In addition to your annual eye exam, your eyecare professional will tell you how often you need to have your eyes checked. Never extend the time until your next visit.
- Do wash and rinse your hands before handling your lenses. A non-perfumed hand soap is preferred.
- Do clean, rinse and air dry your lens case. Contact lens cases can be a source of bacteria growth. Lens cases should be cleaned, rinsed, and allowed to air dry each time the lenses are removed. Replace the lens case regularly.
- Do be sure to clean, rinse and disinfect your soft lenses if they have been stored for periods of time longer than 12 hours. Consult product literature or your eye care professional for specific instructions.
- Do see your eye care professional every six months -- or more frequently, if recommended.
- Do replace your contact lenses regularly; they do wear out with time.
- Don't wear your lenses beyond the prescribed wearing time. For example, don't wear your daily wear lenses while sleeping or keep your disposable lenses longer than prescribed.
- Don't use saliva to wet your lenses.
- Don't use unsterile home-prepared saline, distilled water or tap water for any part of your lens-care regimen.
- Don't allow your lenses to come into contact with cosmetic lotions, creams or sprays. It's best to insert your lenses before putting on make up and to remove them before removing your make up. Water-based cosmetics are less likely to damage your lenses than oil-based products.
- Don't change your lens care regimen or solutions without consulting your eye care professional.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 24 Apr 2015, Last modified: 4 Mar 2020