An estimated 45 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses to see clearly. Unfortunately, there are also an estimated 1 million doctor visits in the United States every year for eye infections due to improper contact lens care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It is very important that you choose high quality contact lenses that are properly fitted to the exact shape of your eyes. However, even if you have the best lenses, if you don’t wear or care for your contacts properly, you will have an increased risk of developing keratitis.
Keratitis is corneal inflammation often caused by an infection stemming from exposure to fungi, bacteria or other microbes. Keratitis can cause pain, scarring and vision disturbances…even blindness.
Tips for Safe Contact Lens Use
You can avoid eye irritations by using contact lenses safely:
- Wash your hands so you don’t transfer dirt and germs to your eye. Try to avoid moisturizing soaps, as they are not good for contact lenses. Dry your hands with a lint-free towel.
- Remove one lens and clean it with the recommended solution. Never clean contacts with tap water or saliva – your mouth is teeming with millions of bacteria and tap water can also have bacteria and microorganisms that can cause infections.
- Cleaning removes eye-produced buildup, cosmetics and other debris that can make your lenses uncomfortable. The FDA recommends that you rub the lens in the palm of your hand with a few drops of solution, even if you are using a no-rub product.
- Rinse the lens again to remove the loosened debris, making sure to take as long as the package directs. Rinsing is an important step.
- Place the lens in a clean lens case or lens holder and fill with fresh solution every time; don’t top off your old solution. Certain types of bacteria can live in cleaning solution for over 4 hours. Disinfecting kills microorganisms on the lens. Disinfection time varies from product to product; check the package for details.
- Clean and dry your contact lens case with the proper solution after each use; replace the case every 3 months.
Protein Buildup Removal
Depending on what kind of contact lenses you wear and how much protein your eyes deposit on your contacts, your doctor may recommend you use a product for protein removal. While cleaning them does remove some protein, it can still build up on your lenses and make them uncomfortable. The longer you wear lenses before replacing them, the more likely you are to need a protein remover.
If you wear disposable lenses, you probably won’t need one; but if you wear the kind of lenses that are replaced only once or twice a year, you definitely will. Products for removing protein include enzymatic cleaner and daily protein removal liquids.
To learn more about contact lens care, contact us to schedule an eye exam.