Contact lenses – love them or loathe them, there are many people who rely on them in order to see clearly on a daily basis.
Rule #1 Always take your contacts out before bed
There are some contact lenses that are designed to be slept in or worn overnight, however sleeping in some contact lenses increases the risk of eye infections or complications.
Our tears help keep our corneas moist and provide the cornea with a constant flow of oxygen. When we sleep, we’re not blinking to replenish our tear film and so oxygen flow and hydration naturally reduces.
Once the lenses are removed it’s best to stick to your glasses for a day. Sleeping in lenses that aren’t designed for overnight wear can make this reduction more severe. Without enough oxygen — sometimes called hypoxia — the cornea can lose its ability to fight bacteria effectively.
If you accidently sleep in lenses, try not to worry and just remove your lenses as soon as you can.
Sometimes the lenses can feel dry and stuck to your eye, try not to pull at them, a few drops of an eye drop can help lubricate the eye and move the lens more freely.
Once the lenses are removed it’s best to stick to your glasses for a day and pay attention to your eyes. If they are painful, becoming increasing redder or your vision has changed contact your eye care professional.
Rule #2 Lenses first, make up later
Cosmetics are cool, but not for contact lenses. So, pop your lenses in before slapping on your make up.
If make up accidently gets in your eye it can stick to the contact lens, affecting the comfort of the lens but also the vision through the contact lens, but it can also get trapped behind your lenses and this can scratch your cornea.
This is more likely to happen if lenses go in after you’ve done your make up.
Rule #3 Don’t clean contacts with tap water
Don’t use tap water for cleaning your contact lenses as tap water is full of microbes which are no good for your eyes.
Microbes are tiny living things that are found all around us and are too small to be seen by the naked eye. The most common types are bacteria, viruses and fungi.
If you drop a contact lens simply dispose of it and open a new blister pack.
Rule #4 Don’t use saliva either
Saliva is home to nasties which can damage your lovely, healthy eyes.
It may surprise you that some people do, but never ever use saliva on your contact lenses.
Saliva contains microbes that belong in your mouth, but that can cause infections in your eyes says the American Academy of Optometrists.
Reusable lenses may be cleaned and reused according to the modality (bi-weekly or monthly); however, daily lenses are designed to be changed each day.
Rule #5 Avoid using your nails or tweezers to remove your contacts
Don’t use fingernails, tweezers or any other tool when handling your contact lenses.
Contact lenses can tear or become damaged if handled with anything sharp. Keep it simple, make sure you only handle your lenses with clean, dry fingers.
Longer nails can tear and damage your lens so it’s a good idea to keep your fingernails shorter, especially when new to wearing lenses.
Contact lenses need to be removed with the pads of your fingers. Some people find it easier to keep the thumb and first fingernail shorter to help with this.
But it’s also important to remember bacteria is often more concentrated under fingernails, as it’s an area that may not be exposed to the same amount of action as the rest of the hands during handwashing, so scrubbing with a nail brush during handwashing is advised.
Excerpted from the Healthista newsletter and written by its editor Olivia Hartland-Robbins who interviewed Rebecca Stoner, Head of Professional Affairs at eye care company Alcon.