Learning About Using And Caring For Your Contact Lenses

Improperly Caring For Your Contact Lenses Might Come Back To Haunt You

Contact lenses are meant to make life simpler. You don't have to worry about them hurting your face if you get hit playing sports, and they don't fog up when you come inside. However, in some ways, wearing contacts is harder than wearing glasses. You have to clean them, store them, and remember to change them regularly. If you don't do these things, there could be serious consequences. Here's a closer look.

What are the consequences of failing to care for your contacts properly?

The main worry is that you'll get an eye infection. Most of the care measures you're meant to take with contacts are designed to eliminate bacteria and other germs to protect your eyes from infection. Bacterial infections can lead to excessive watering of the eyes, dryness, extreme irritation, and scratches on the cornea. However, they're rather treatable with antibiotics. An even more worrisome concern is that you might develop Acanthamoeba eye infections, which are caused by a unicellular amoeba that can be found in some tap water, well water, hot tubs, and sewage. This serious ailment causes a ring-like ulcer to form around your cornea, sometimes leading to blindness or the need for a corneal transplant.

There's also the worry that if you don't clean and care for your contacts, dust and debris built up on them may scratch your cornea or cause an allergic reaction.

What are some common contact-care mistakes people make?

Many people start off following their eye doctors' instructions for contact care, but then they slowly slip into bad habits over the years without even realizing it. These habits often include:

Adding new solution to the case instead of changing it. This can cause bacteria and other organisms to build up in the solution and then be introduced to your eyes.

Not washing your hands. Always wash your hands well before touching your contacts, the contact case, or your eyes. You only have to introduce a few bacteria to your lenses, and then they can replicate and eventually cause an infection.

Wearing your lenses longer than recommended. If you're supposed to change them every two weeks, don't wear them for three.  They might become rough or worn in certain areas, leading to eye abrasions.

Not taking your lenses out. Don't wear them overnight if they're not overnight lenses! This restricts the airflow to your eyes, which makes them more appealing to certain kinds of bacteria.

If you're making these contact care mistakes, make today the day you develop better habits. For more information, talk to your optometrist.