Contact lenses are a great alternative to glasses for everyone from athletes to people seeking a different personal style. But it’s important to keep your contact lenses clean and wear them properly if you want to keep your eyes healthy.
Contact lenses should be taken out daily, CEENTA Certified Contact Lens Technician Lois Mucci, NCLE, said. If CEENTA providers see problems with contacts lens-wearers, it’s usually because they were sleeping with their lenses in.
Sleeping with contact lenses causes protein buildup, which can lead to a number of conditions, including giant papillary conjunctivitis – or GPC – corneal ulcers, and corneal edema.
GPC is an allergic reaction to those proteins, Ms. Mucci said. It can feel like sand in your eyes, can make your eyes red, and can cause a discharge when you are wearing your contacts.
A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea and can be caused by poor-fitting or over-worn contact lenses, Ms. Mucci said. If not treated properly they can do permanent damage and cause scarring. They can also be caused by microorganisms found in tap water, swimming pools, hot tubs, and other water sources. Therefore, you should remove your contacts before entering the water.
A corneal edema is a swelling of the cornea, which can be caused by a tight-fitting lens, Ms. Mucci said. If the cornea swells, it can potentially decrease your vision.
These conditions can be prevented by proper hygiene and not over-wearing your contacts, Ms. Mucci said.
Keeping your contacts clean is very important. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says you should wash your hands with soap and water and dry them with a lint-free towel before putting your contact lenses in.
When cleaning your contact lenses, rub them with your fingers, and then rinse the lenses with contact lens solution before soaking them. Contact lens solutions typically include a preservative, a binding agent, a buffer, and a wetting agent. While saline solution and wetting drops are okay for rinsing off your lenses before wear, they are not effective disinfectants. Your contacts should not be rinsed or stored in water. You should also not put contact lenses in your mouth to wet them, since saliva is not a sterile solution.
Old contact lens solution should not be re-used, and you should not top off the old solution in your lens case, the AAO states. You should not transfer solution into smaller, travel-size containers, since that can affect the sterility of the solution. The tip of the solution bottle should not come into contact with any surface, and the bottle should be tightly closed when not in use.
Lens cases can also be a source of contamination or infections, so you should not use cracked or damaged ones. To clean your case, you should rinse it with fresh solution, not water, and leave it open to air dry. Cases should be replaced at least once every three months.
If you store your lenses in their case for an extended period of time, you should consult the instructions for both the lenses and the solution to determine if you need to disinfect them before you wear them. You should definitely disinfect them if you store them for 30 or more days.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. If you would like to wear contact lenses or need your prescription checked, call 704-295-3000 to make an appointment with one of CEENTA’s eye care professionals.
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