Could your contact lens habits put your eyes at risk?
We all love the freedom of contact lenses: They don’t fog up if we step outside, they don’t slide off our noses when we bend over and they don’t need constant adjusting. But like all freedoms, contact lenses come with responsibility. They can pose a serious health risk if they’re not worn properly.
What are the health risks of contact lenses?
The biggest risk to your eye from using contact lenses is infection. Bacterial infection can lead to painful ulceration and permanent scarring of the cornea, which can lead to irreversible loss of vision. Other possible risks include new blood vessel growth (neovascularization) and inflammation/swelling of ocular surfaces (under eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva).
Contact lens wear is shown to increase risk of keratitis which is inflammation of the cornea. Keratitis is a serious eye infection that can occur when contact lenses are worn too long or not cared for properly. With correct care and management, these risks can be greatly lowered and prevented.
General rules to follow
Infections and other health risks can usually be avoided by properly caring for your contacts:
- Wash your hands prior to handling your lenses.
- Never wear torn or ripped lenses.
- Don’t sleep in your lenses.
- Don’t wear lenses longer than 10-12 hours.
- Replace lenses regularly, as directed by prescriber. Most lenses are replaced monthly, biweekly, or daily.
- Never expose contact lenses to water.
- Remove contacts before swimming/showering to reduce risk of eye infection.
- Use fresh disinfectant solution every night. Do not reuse solution or “top off” remaining solution in your case.
- Clean and air dry cases during the day.
- Replace lens cases every 2-3 months.
- Contact your eye doctor if you have signs of eye redness, irritation, a change in vision, light sensitivity or pain.
- If you experience symptoms of eye irritation or infection, remove your lenses immediately and do not put them back in.
Try to keep a pair of glasses with you in case you need to take out your contact lenses.
Your eyes are sensitive and give the precious gift of sight. For contact lens wearers, protect your eyes by taking care of your contacts.