Getting contact lenses for the first time is a very exciting time in your life. Here’s how to wear your contact lenses safely.
1. Avoid Sleeping in your contact lenses
A healthy cornea receives oxygen from the air. When wearing contact lenses, the contact moves about a millimeter with each blink to allow oxygen to enter through the cornea to provide it with nutrients that keep it healthy. When you sleep in your contact lenses (even for a quick power nap!), oxygen is not penetrating through your cornea. This is a problem as lack of oxygen will damage the cornea and lead to vision loss. Sleeping in contacts also promotes bacterial growth from the contact lens to multiply overnight.
This is why our Optometrist recommends annual eye exams (especially for contact lens wearers!) as it is critical to ensure your cornea and eyes are healthy.
2. Avoid using water or showering and swimming in your contact lenses.
Whether your contact lens solution bottle has run out or you’re looking for an alternative to expensive $$$ contact solutions, you should never use water as a replacement for disinfecting contact lens solution. Tap water may seem safe, however it can be damaging. Tap water contains microorganisms and some of them are known to cause serious eye problems. Contact lens solution not only cleans and sanitizes your lenses, but it also helps to maintain the shape of the lens.
In order to avoid using water as a last resort to clean and store your lenses, our Optometrist recommends switching to 1 day replacement contacts lenses. It’s hassle free. You just throw them away when you’re done wearing them.
If you don’t wear 1 day contact lenses, you should carry a spare contact lens case with a travel sized solution, and (our personal favourite!) a spare pair of glasses.
Showering and swimming with contact lens wear may be convenient, however it significantly increases your risk of developing serious eye problems.
Healthy lens care involves practicing good hygiene because it is one the most important steps in preventing infections and other eye health related problems. If you use 2 week or 1 month contact lenses, disinfection is a must! Always buy solution that says “Disinfection” on the label. If it doesn’t, then don’t buy it. An example would be Saline solutions. Only peroxide-based disinfectant solutions are capable of penetrating the microbial biofilms for a deeper clean. That is why our personal favourite is Clear Care Cleaning & Disinfecting Solution.
Multi-purpose disinfecting solutions, which are used for killing bacteria and rinsing your contact lens, can be used. Any name-brand multi-purpose solution will do the trick. It is best to avoid generic brands and saline-only contact lens solutions.
If you have allergies or if your eyes tend to form protein deposits, ask our optometrist what they recommend for cleaning solutions for your specific needs.
Studies have shown that “rub and rinse” is the most effective way of cleaning contact lenses.
Here are SIX daily steps to cleaning your contact lenses:
Wash your hands with soap and water before handling your contact lenses.
Use antibacterial soap and dry your hands with a lint-free towel. Avoid oil or lotion-based soaps, which can soil your lenses.
Use fresh contact lens cleaning solution EVERY time.
Avoid tap or sterile water, saliva, saline solution or rewetting eye drops. These do not disinfect or adequately clean your lenses.
Rub your contact lenses with your fingers, and rinse them with fresh cleaning solution afterward.
Avoid touching any surface and contaminating the tip of your contact lens solution bottle. Keep the bottle firmly closed when you’re not using it.
About the Author Dr. Steven Hoang received his Doctor of Optometry at the University of Waterloo. He serves as the owner and full-time eye doctor of Inglewood and Ramsay at Respect Eyecare. His special interest is in contact lenses and dry eye syndrome.