Contact lenses prescribed by a licensed optometrist are worn safely and comfortably by millions of people worldwide and have a long history of providing wearers with a safe and effective form of vision correction. While contact lenses provide many vision benefits, they are not risk-free. Your doctor can help you better understand how to get the full benefits of your contact lenses and reduce your changes of developing problems.
Protect your eye and vision health with proper hygiene
Contact lens-related eye infections and other injuries can lead to long-lasting damage but often are preventable. Clean and safe handling of contact lenses is one of the easiest and most important measures patients can take to protect their vision. Hygiene is the most critical aspect of successful long-term contact lens wear.
Many common care mistakes, including failing to clean and store lenses as directed by your doctor and sleeping while wearing contacts, can increase the chance of getting bacteria in the eyes and causing infection. Serious eye infections can lead to blindness and affect up to one out of every 500 contact lens users per year, and even minor infections can be painful and disrupt day-to-day life.
Basic rules of contact lens care
Because contact lenses sit directly on the eye, they can introduce contaminants that may lead to serious problems. Here are a few basic rules to follow to keep your contact lenses (and your eyes) germ-free:
- Always wash your hands before putting your contacts in or taking them out
- Always clean and store your contact lenses in fresh contact lens solution. Do not reuse old solution!
- Never store or clean your contacts in water. Harmful microorganisms live in virtually every source of water on Earth, and these microorganisms love to burrow into hydrogels like your contact lenses.
- Pay close attention to the instructions for how long to use a pair of contact lenses before replacing them.
- Never reuse daily disposable contact lenses.
Avoiding irritation and infection
How well you take care of your lenses when they're out of your eyes is only half of the equation. The other half is what you do when the lenses are in. Make sure you're sticking to the following rules:
- Try not to rub your eyes. You could dislodge or damage the contact and introduce oils and germs from your fingers into your eye, and rubbing will more likely increase irritation than decrease it.
- Follow the instructions on how long to leave your contacts in. Only wear them overnight if they are specifically designed for it and your doctor has given you the okay. The surface of our eyes get oxygen directly from the air, and wearing the wrong pair of contact lenses for too long can starve them of oxygen and cause serious discomfort. Dry eye and infection are other risks of extended wear of the wrong lenses.
A contact lens is a medical device that requires a prescription
All contact lenses, even purely cosmetic ones, are considered medical devices and require a prescription. If contact lenses are right for you, your doctor will provide you with the lenses, individual instructions for wear and care and follow-up visits over a specified time.
Contact lens prescriptions generally expire on a yearly basis, unless otherwise determined by your doctor. Prescriptions for contact lenses and glasses may be similar, but are not interchangeable. Also, different contact lenses often are made from different materials and in different sizes, some of which can be comfortable and healthy for you to wear, while others can lead to discomfort and even eye health problems. A prescription for contact lenses therefore involves more than simply knowing the optical power that corrects for nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
Having trouble? Come see your optometrist at Isthmus Eye Care!
If your contacts are continually causing irritation, you're having trouble putting or keeping them in, or you feel there may be a more serious issue going on, don't hesitate to visit your optometrist. We're here to keep your eyes healthy and we love helping you. And even if you aren't having any problems, keep scheduling regular checkups so we can keep your prescription up-to-date and make sure your eyes are staying healthy!