Taking care of Contact Lenses is critical to protect your sight. Yesterday I switched back to contact lenses from glasses. I have worn contacts off and on for the last 25 years or so and over the last three years I have almost exclusively worn contact lenses. I rememver the last time that I got contact lenses my optometrists asked me how long I wore my contact lenses and I replied “about 12 hours a day”, he was shocked and asked me what I had against my eyes to treat them so badly. I am sure that I will be better this time around.
More than 30 million Americans use contact lenses, according to the Contact Lens Council. In addition to offering flexibility, convenience, and a “no-glasses” appearance, “contacts” help correct a variety of vision disorders, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and poor focusing with reading material.
But contact lenses also present potential risks. “Because they are worn directly on the eye, they can lead to conditions such as eye infections and corneal ulcers,” says James Saviola, Branch Chief for FDA’s Division of Ophthalmic and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices. “These conditions can develop very quickly and can be very serious. In rare cases, they can lead to blindness.”
Best strategies for contact lens safety involve maintenance, cleanliness, and learning as much about it as you can.
Tips for Buying Contact Lenses
With a valid prescription, it is possible to purchase contact lenses from stores, the Internet, over the phone or by mail. But be extremely cautious when buying contacts from someone other than your eye care professional.
Contact lenses are NOT over-the-counter devices. Companies that sell them as such are misbranding the device and violating FTC regulations by selling you contact lenses without having your prescription.
Avoiding Contact Lense problems
- Make sure your prescription is current. Don’t order with an expired prescription, and don’t stock up on lenses right before the prescription is about to expire. If you haven’t had your eyes checked within the last year or two, you may have eye problems that you are not aware of, or your lenses may not correct your vision well.
- Order from a supplier that you are familiar with and know is reliable.
- Beware of attempts to substitute a different brand than you presently have. There are differences in the water content and shape among the brands. The correct choice of which lens is right for you should be based only on an examination by your eye care professional.
- Request the manufacturer’s written patient information for your contact lenses. It will give you important risk/benefit information and instructions for use.
- Make sure that you get the exact brand, lens name, power, sphere, cylinder (if any), axis (if any), diameter, base curve, and peripheral curves (if any) noted on the prescription. If you think you’ve received an incorrect lens, check with your eye care professional. Don’t accept a substitution unless your eye care professional approves it.
Taking care of Contact Lenses
Contact lens users run the risk of infections such as pink eye (conjunctivitis), corneal abrasions, and eye irritation. A common result of eye infection is corneal ulcers, which are open sores in the outer layer of the cornea. Many of these complications can be avoided through everyday care of the eye and contact-lenses.
To reduce your chances of infection
- Replace your contact lens storage case every 3-6 months.
- Clean and disinfect your lenses properly.
- Never transfer contact lens solutions into smaller travel size containers. This can affect sterility and may also leave you open to accidentally applying a harmful liquid to your eyes.
- Avoid non-sterile water. Distilled water and tap water are not sterile and should not be used.
- Never use homemade saline solution, as tap and distilled water are not sterile.
- Never put your lenses in your mouth; saliva is not sterile.
- Always use fresh contact lens solution. Never reuse the lens solution.
- Remove your contact lenses before swimming.
Don’t wear your contact lenses overnight. This in itself will protect your eyes and helps in taking care of contact lenses. This is a real chance for infection and has to be avoided. This is because contact lenses stress the cornea by reducing the amount of oxygen to the eye. They can also cause microscopic damage to the surface of the cornea, making it more susceptible to infection.
Never ignore symptoms of eye irritation or infection that may be associated with wearing contact lenses. The symptoms include discomfort, excess tearing or other discharge, unusual sensitivity to light, itching, burning, gritty feelings, unusual redness, blurred vision, swelling and pain.
If you experience any contact lense infection symptoms
Remove your lenses immediately and keep them off.
Keep the lenses. They may help your eye care professional determine the cause of your symptoms.
Get in touch with your eye care professional immediately.
Let me know if you have any more tips for all of us. Taking care of contact lenses and your eyes is a very good idea.