Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 45 million people wear contact lenses in the US? Contact lenses have evolved over the years into an accessible and comfortable solution for many people who need corrective eyewear.
Contact lenses are great for athletic use and increased self-esteem. Since 1971, soft contact lenses have been the preferred type of lenses because they are more comfortable and breathable than hard contact lenses.
Since soft lenses are so comfortable, it can be easy to forget about proper lens care. Failing to follow proper contact lens care can cause discomfort and infections. Read on to learn six common contact lens mistakes to avoid.
1. Not Taking Out Contact Lenses Before Going in Water
It can seem second nature to keep your contact lenses in before showering, bathing, or swimming. Taking out your contacts or switching to glasses can seem tedious before a quick shower.
Water interacting with your contacts, however, can lead to discomfort and infections. This is because contact lenses soak up almost everything they come in contact with.
Pools and hot tubs contain little microorganisms that swim around. Even if you don’t plan to get your face wet, water droplets can come in contact with your eyes. Your contact lenses will trap any contamination against your eyes until you take the lenses out.
Even tap water in the shower or bath can damage your contacts. Water can make contact lenses swell and stick to the eye, which is very uncomfortable. Acanthamoeba is a serious eye infection that occurs after contaminated water interacts with contact lenses.
Symptoms of acanthamoeba include:
- Severe eye pain
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Uncontrolled tearing
Avoid this, and similar, eye infections by removing your contact lenses before going into the water.
2. Forgetting to Clean Your Contact Lens Case
It may seem obvious to clean your contact lenses, but how often do you clean your contact lens case? Failure to frequently clean or replace your contact lens case can cause bacteria to build up.
When bacteria builds up in a case, it creates a layer of microorganisms called biofilm. Biofilm protects bacteria from the disinfectant in contact lens solution.
Since you can’t see biofilm without the help of a microscope, you need to be proactive about cleaning your case in order to lower your risk of eye infections.
It is best to clean your case after every time you put your contacts in. Follow these steps to properly clean your contact lens case:
- Scrub and rinse your case with contact lens solution, NOT tap water.
- Place the case and lids upside down on a clean tissue to dry.
- Replace your case every 3 months.
3. Reusing Old Saline Solution
Just like how you shouldn’t keep using an old, dirty contact lens case, you also shouldn’t reuse your contact solution. Reusing old saline solution to clean your contacts is like washing your hands with dirty water.
Old solution breaks down, so it does not disinfect lenses as well as it should. Always use fresh saline solution to clean your contact lenses. NEVER use tap water.
Additionally, mixing old and new saline solution is another common contact lens mistake to avoid. Adding extra drops of new solution to your old solution can put you at risk for an eye infection.
4. Sleeping With Contact Lenses In
You may notice that your eyes hurt or feel dry if you accidentally take a nap while wearing contacts. Antibodies in your eyelid require oxygen to fight off germs.
If you have contacts in while your eyes are closed, there is even less oxygen available to your eyes. Additionally, every time you blink, you lubricate your eyes and contacts. If your contact lenses are confined behind closed eyelids, they can invite bacteria in.
Wearing contacts to bed greatly increases your risk of getting an eye infection. If you need corrective eyewear, you should opt to get both contact lenses and glasses so that you can wear your glasses before bed.
5. Wearing Lenses Longer Than You Should
In addition to sleeping with your contact lenses in, wearing your contacts for too long during the day can cause irritation. You may notice that if you’ve had your contacts in for longer than 12 hours, you may get dry eyes or a headache.
Wearing contact lenses for too long seals off your eyes from getting the fluids and oxygen that they need. Wearing contacts for multiple days in a row without removing them can cause serious eye infections, which can cause serious complications and even include permanent vision loss.
It is a good idea to give your eyes a break on occasion. Wear your glasses during extra-long workdays, or when you don’t plan on leaving the house.
6. Skipping a Yearly Eye Exam
Since contact lenses are a medical device, it is important to stay up-to-date with your eye health. It is a common mistake to assume the same prescription is acceptable for multiple years without a check-up.
You can schedule a contact lens fitting during your yearly exam. This will ensure that the next brand of contacts you order accommodates dry eyes, astigmatism, and the unique shape of your eyes.
Yearly comprehensive eye exams are essential for maintaining your overall eye health. Not only will your prescription get updated to what is accurate, but you can get tested for any underlying eye conditions.
Keep Your Eyes Healthy With Proper Contact Lens Care
Avoid these 6 common contact lens mistakes to maintain healthy eyes. Keep your contacts out of the water, employ proper cleaning methods, and avoid extended wear. It is always better to be safe rather than to risk an eye infection.
Proper contact lens care will keep your eyes healthy while helping you see clearly. Healthy eyes will allow you to enjoy all the great benefits contact lenses have to offer.
To schedule your annual eye exam for contacts or glasses in Edina or Wayzata, request an appointment today!