Think back to that time you put on your first pair of contact lenses. Were you blown away by how clearly you could see the world again?
If you want to continue to enjoy clear vision, you need to be sure that you’re taking good care of your contact lenses and your eyes. Because the risk of developing an eye infection goes up if you wear contact lenses—and increases significantly if your eye and lens care habits aren’t healthy.
And considering 25% of infections involving contact lenses are the result of easily avoidable behaviors, you might as well try to avoid them. You only have one pair of eyes, after all.
Protect your eyes: The 5 golden rules
If you want to be sure your baby blues (or browns or greens) are healthy for years to come, be sure to incorporate these five golden rules into your daily routine:
1. Never go to sleep with your contact lenses in
Remember, you already have a greater chance of developing an eye infection than those who don’t wear contacts. And if you wear your lenses while sleeping, your risk goes up a whopping six to eight times. Since the odds are already against you, why take the chance?
2. Use fresh solution when cleaning your lenses
If you like to save a couple of bucks by mixing new solution in with the old, make it a priority to save your eyes instead! This bad habit decreases the solution’s power to kill germs and is considered one of the most dangerous mistakes you can make when it comes to your contacts. Just as bad is using water or saliva as an alternative to solution. Just don’t do it!
3. Don’t overwear your lenses
Replace them as often as recommended by your doctor — even if they aren’t causing discomfort or irritation. And never, ever use your contact lenses beyond their expiration date.
4. Remove your contact lenses before you hop in the water
Wearing your contact lenses in the water increases your chances of developing a parasitic keratitis, an eye infection caused by a free-living ameba commonly found in the water. While rare, this form of keratitis can cause blindness. Luckily, it’s as simple as removing your contacts before you take a bath or shower, enjoy the hot tub, or go for swim.
5. Ban the five-second rule
While you might think it’s okay to eat a piece of food that has been on the ground for five seconds or less, when it comes to your contact lenses, this rule no longer applies.
If your contacts have spent any time on the ground, they should not be going anywhere near your eye. So if one falls out and you don’t have a replacement, pull out your pair of back-up glasses. Try to always have a back-up pair on you in case of emergency.
Special considerations at special times of year
As a contact lens wearer, even the time of year can affect your eye health. Keep reading for extra things to consider depending on the time of year.
In summer, always pack a pair of glasses before heading off to the cottage or the beach, as contact lenses should not be worn in water to avoid serious infection, as noted above.
With fall comes Halloween, a time of year that finds many people wearing decorative lenses to add that final touch to their costume. What many of us don’t realize is that we shouldn’t be using non-prescription lenses, as they can cause real damage to the eye.
Contact lenses are not a one-size-fits-all device, and an improperly fitting pair can cause painful scratches that can lead to infection.
Winter means dry skin and dry eyes! And for contact lens wearers, dry eyes can lead to extra discomfort, so extra care should be taken during this time of year. If your home is quite dry, be sure to get a humidifier since indoor heating can really decrease a room’s moisture.
And if your eyes are tearing up due to dryness, you may need to consider using eye drops designed for contact lens wearers specifically.
When to see your eye doctor
If you’re not sure if and when you should see your optometrist next, contact League’s Health Concierge with any questions and our team of health professionals will let you know if a visit is in order.