Many people take their contact lenses for granted. Taking unnecessary risks with your contact lenses is like texting and driving: It is an accident waiting to happen. Even people who have been fit properly and do everything right have run into problems. Here are a few key points for you to remember when using contact lenses.
- Wash your hands. People do gross things with their hands. No, not you, but other people. But remember, those people then touch door knobs, hand rails, light switches and even shake your hands. I don't care if you washed your hands five minutes ago… wash them again right before you handle your contacts.
- Use Contact Lens cleaning solutions correctly. Your solution only works correctly if you follow the instructions. Always discard old solution and air dry your case. Rub the lenses to get them clean, don’t just soak them in solution. And leave them in the solution the specified amount of time, usually 4-6 hours depending on the brand. Don’t forget, SALIVA IS NOT A CONTACT LENS SOLUTION! (I know, gross, right?)
- Don’t overwear your contacts. Your lenses get more contaminated the longer they get exposed to the environment and your eyeball. If you are supposed to throw your lenses away every two weeks, don't keep them an extra month because “they aren't bothering” you. And for crying out loud, don’t sleep in them if you can avoid it. Although most contact lenses are “approved” for extended wear, most eyeballs aren’t. You are 15 times more likely to have an eye infection if you sleep in your “approved” lenses than if you don’t wear contact lenses at all.
- Don't buy them at the flea market. Contact lenses are medical devices that must fit properly to avoid having issues later on. Your doctor is trained in the fitting and prescribing of contact lenses. The power of the lenses is only one part of the fitting process. If lenses fit too tightly, they can cause low grade abrasions or cut off the natural flow of fluids under the lens—both are dangerous to the health of the eye. A lens that is too loose can create issues with comfort and even be displaced too easily. An important point is that two lenses that have the same size designation but from two different companies do not fit the same way and that is why it is illegal for a contact lens company to switch lenses to something that was not originally prescribed. Patients should realize that when buying contact lenses from places that don't require a prescription, it means that that company is committing a felony by doing so. This is an extremely dangerous practice and losing your eyesight as a result would be a tragic ending to that decision.
Contact lenses are a great alternative to wearing glasses everyday, but remember to give them the respect that they deserve so that you don’t end up coming back in to see us for an unplanned emergency visit.