Whether you wear them to improve your vision or have to be fitted for a new pair after undergoing iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking for progressive keratoconus, contact lenses can play a key role in your keratoconus journey. However, while contact lenses are an effective way to improve vision, more than 99% of users have reported at least one risky eye care behavior that can lead to eye infections.
For example, did you know that wearing lenses for longer than recommended raises the risk of eye infection by five times? Although complete compliance may sound challenging, such as adhering to proper hygiene and frequently cleaning and disinfecting contact lenses, it’s important to remember that without proper care and maintenance, you could get a serious eye infection.
To highlight the biggest Do’s and Don’ts of proper contact lens care, we spoke with Dr. Gloria B. Chiu, OD, FAAO, FSLS, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine. While some of Dr. Chiu’s tips may seem like common sense, others might come as a surprise to you. Either way, you should adhere to these contact lens tips to ensure the best possible care for your eye health moving forward.
Continue reading for the tips you should be following to properly care for your contact lenses and to ensure good eye health. Also, stay tuned for Part Two, where Dr. Chiu shares what you should not be doing when it comes to your lenses.
Contact Lenses Do’s:
Adhere to Proper Hygiene
Proper hygiene may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to caring for your contact lenses, but it may be tempting to skip protocol when you’re running late or in a rush. Don’t! Before handling your contacts, it’s extremely important to wash your hands with water and a mild soap to ensure no germs come into contact with your lenses, case, or eyes.
Frequently Clean and Disinfect Your Contacts
First and foremost, determining whether to clean or toss your contact lenses depends on if you wear disposable or reusable contacts. Disposable contact lenses can be tossed in the trash after use. Reusable lenses should be cleaned and disinfected following each use. When caring for reusable contacts, be sure to use disinfecting solutions, eye drops, and enzymatic cleaners that have been recommended by your doctor.
Clean contacts by gently rubbing the lens with your finger, while holding it in the palm of your other hand. Light rubbing of both sides is best to remove any surface buildup.
Properly Store Your Contacts
Proper storage of your contacts is essential to prevent bacteria or germs from entering your case and potentially leading to dangerous eye infections. To play it safe, clean your lens case with a sterile solution every time you use it, then allow it to air dry.
Keep Your Eye Exam Appointments
It is recommended to see your eye doctor regularly in order to ensure that your lenses fit correctly and that your prescription does not need to be adjusted. So, keep your regular eye exam appointments, no matter how busy you may be! Since keratoconus is a progressive condition, your vision may have changed since the last appointment, which would require an updated prescription.
Change Out Your Lenses as Necessary
It’s important to change out your lenses at the prescribed interval of wear. While lens usage varies from daily, biweekly, monthly, and even to annual schedules, it’s essential to change out your lenses when necessary. Ignoring your contact lens replacement schedule can cause serious problems, ranging from minor irritation to permanent damage.
Keep Your Eyes Hydrated
If you experience dryness in your eyes with lens wear throughout the day, try using artificial tears that have been approved by your eye doctor. It may be necessary to use these tears several times throughout the day, because even if your eyes don’t seem dry, they may be overdue for some much-needed hydration.
Wear Your Lenses in the Correct Eye
You may think this one is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often lenses get switched! When putting in contact lenses, always ensure that you have the correct lens on the correct eye. If your prescriptions are different, wearing your lens in the wrong eye may cause pain, brow ache, headache, blurring, or feelings of nausea.
Soak Your Lenses Overnight
Unless you wear disposable contacts, your contact lenses should be soaked in an appropriate solution overnight, with enough solution in the case to completely soak the lenses. This will help to properly disinfect and hydrate your lenses for the following day’s use.
Watch for Changes in Your Eyes
While contact lenses may certainly seem like a convenient alternative to wearing glasses, you may be susceptible to infections if you don’t properly clean and care for them. Watch for any changes to your eyes and signs of an infection, such as redness, pain, swelling, light sensitivity, mucus discharge, itching, burning, or decreased vision. Call your doctor immediately if new signs or symptoms develop.
Change Your Lens Case Regularly
Proper contact lens care includes changing your lens case and insertion tools regularly. The American Optometric Association recommends changing your lens case every one to three months in order to avoid overuse, which can result in infection from bacterial contamination.
Questions? Don’t Delay Reaching Out
If you have any questions about your contact lenses or eye health, make sure to ask your eye doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor should be able to assist you with any difficulties you’re experiencing, as well as recommend additional tips.
Embracing Your New Behaviors
No matter what type of contact lenses you wear, it’s important to use them correctly and to take proper care of them – otherwise, your overall eye health may be impacted! Now that you understand the big Do’s of contact lenses and how to properly care for them to ensure good eye health, look out for more information from Dr. Chiu on the Don’ts of contact lenses for some behaviors you should avoid.
This blog post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Information on this website should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional.