OCTOBER - Contact Lens SafetyNot only is October Breast Cancer Awareness month, but the American Optometric Association also wants to recognize Contact Lens Safety. Here are a few steps to keep you safe in your contacts.
1. Don’t sleep in contacts. Most infections and irritations come from extended wear. Older contact lenses were made of a hydrogel material, which did not let much oxygen pass through the lens. Newer materials incorporate silicone, which greatly improves the transmission of oxygen. However, even wearing contacts that are approved for extended wear can greatly reduce the amount of oxygen available to the eye over night. This lack of oxygen can increase the risk for infection.
2. When you take out your lenses, you should store them properly. Using a name brand solution will ensure your lenses are cleaned and disinfected properly. Place fresh solution in your case before you store your lenses and dump out the solution when you insert your lenses. This will allow the case to air dry while you wear the lenses. Also, be sure to change your lens case every three months. Finally, water should NEVER be used to store lenses.
3. Contact lenses should be changed regularly. There are three primary modalities that are prescribed; daily, 2 week, and monthly. Contact lenses that are not changed as prescribed can cause damage. Older lenses can harbor bacteria, which can lead to nasty infections. Protein deposits can also develop on the lenses, causing discomfort and irritation. Although you may clean your lenses daily, they will still become dirty over time.
4. Contact lenses are great for helping you see, but there are times and places when they should not be worn. These include swimming pools and hot tubs. These waters can harbor nasty bacteria that can lead to severe infections and vision loss. If you work in an area that has hazardous fumes or chemicals, contact lenses are not the best choice for you. The chemicals can get into the lenses and damage the cornea.
5. Lastly, you should never ignore a red or irritated eye. If you notice that your eyes are red, or they are bothering you, take you contact lens out immediately and see and eye care provider. Some severe infections can start out as just a mild red eye. An examination by an eye care provider will determine a course of treatment.
Dr. Koerner practices in Columbia, SC at America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses on Forest Drive. He relishes spending his free time enjoying the outdoors with his wife, Danielle. Click here to follow Dr. Koerner on Facebook!