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. 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 residues. 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.
3. Sleeping in your contacts
Just like you shouldn’t wear your contacts for more days than their prescribed length, you also shouldn’t wear them for more hours in a day than recommended. And you especially shouldn’t sleep in them (unless you have the type that are specifically meant to be worn while you sleep).
4. 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.
5. Using tap water to clean your contacts
Showering, swimming, and even using tap water to clean your contacts can lead to serious eye damage. Tap water may be pure enough to drink, but it’s not sterile. Acanthamoeba can live in tap water, therefore, soaking your lenses in water from the sink can lead to eye infections.
Avoiding this will prevent the cornea from getting inflamed, or scarred, which can impair vision. This also applies to filtered water from the sink because bacteria can grow on the faucet, and enter the water, to get on your lenses.
6. Handing 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.
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.