4 Mistakes to Avoid While Caring for Your Contact Lens

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When people first get their contact lenses, they are often very careful to follow their eye doctors' instructions when it comes to proper lens care and hygiene. However, once they've had their lenses for a few months or years, they may start to forget some of the crucial care steps and develop some bad habits.

While you may get away with these bad habits for a time, these habits are likely to lead to consequences, such as infections and discomfort, down the road.
Have you become lazy about your contact lens care? Here are four common habits you should work to avoid.

1. Not Washing Your Hands Before Inserting Your Contacts


Hygiene is so important when it comes to lens wear. Hands and fingertips are notoriously contaminated with bacteria, and when you touch your eyes or lenses with dirty hands, you introduce these bacteria to your eyes, which could lead to a serious infection.

Quickly rinsing your hands under the faucet isn't a good habit. The average person only spends 10 seconds washing their hands, however, hands should be washed for at least 30 seconds.

Make sure you focus on scrubbing your fingertips and nails since they will touch your eyes and these areas tend to be the most contaminated. Even if you just woke up or got out of the shower, always wash your hands before handling your contacts or eyes.

2. Storing Your Contacts in Old or Used Contact Solution


 

You should be changing the contact solution in your contact lens case each and every day. Some patients slowly fall into the habit of reusing the solution or just topping it off each day. While this might save you a few dollars a month on contact solution, it will cost you in the long run since reusing the solution perpetuates bacterial growth and can lead to an infection.

When filling your case with solution, be careful not to touch the tip of your bottle to the case. Also place the lid back on your bottle ASAP. These practices can help prevent your contact solution from becoming contaminated.

3. Forgetting to Replace Your Contact Case


Have you been using the same contact lens case for years on end? You're not alone, as many patients develop an affection for their contact cases. However, even with frequent cleaning, your case can accumulate bacteria and protein deposits.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it is best to get a new case every three months. If you find a particular type you like, stock up and buy several so you can stick with the same type.

Even when you do replace your case regularly, daily cleaning is important. Clean your contact lens case by rinsing it out with contact lens solution. Do not use tap water, because this cleaning method is linked with a very serious eye infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis.

4. Wearing Contacts Overnight
 


Sleeping with your lenses in your eyes may save you time in the morning, but it's a very bad idea if you do not have extended wear lenses designed specifically for overnight wear.

The longer you wear your lenses, the more clogged they become with proteins, bacteria and other debris. After a whole day of wear, the lens won't let a lot of oxygen reach your eyes, and this lack of oxygen leads to swelling and infections. After several days of constant wear, the situation can become quite dire.

Take your contacts out each and every night - the extra three minutes the removal takes is well worth avoiding an infection. 
If you have become a bit lax about caring for your contacts and eyes, make today the day you correct your bad habits and move toward greater eye health. Contact Dr. Kevin Lenahan if you are experiencing symptoms of an eye infection, such as redness or itching.

Katy Lenahan