Is Your Contact Lens Hygiene Up To Standards?

Optometrists love fitting contact lenses as an additional option to providing their patients with the vision they deserve. With this being said, your Optometrist is also fully aware that a good percentage of their patients are not practicing perfect contact lens hygiene. Overall, here is a guide to what your eye doctor wants you to know about realistic and optimal contact lens hygiene that will help protect your eyes from contact lens-related complications. I know this is a long post, but your eyes will thank you!

Step 1: Always wash your hands

One of the simplest but, admittedly, often missed steps of practicing good contact lens hygiene is to always wash your hands before you insert or remove the lenses. Many patients who are time pressed may skip this important step. Ultimately, your finger acts as a vector for bacteria to reach the lens. Once bacteria reaches the lens, the contaminated lens is inserted into the eye and the bacteria now have access to cause an eye infection.

Step 2: Rub your lenses…gently

Many patients don’t rub their lenses with solution before inserting them. The reason this step is often missed is because it’s easy to feel that your contacts are being cleaned all night thoroughly while they soak in their cases. However, rubbing the lenses gently between your thumb and forefinger with a fresh stream of solution can greatly improve the comfort of the lenses and reduce the risk of infections by further cleaning the lens. This step is mostly important to patients who do not wear daily-disposable lenses.

Step 3: Listen to your eyes

During the day while you are wearing your lenses, listen to your eyes and try to tune into the comfort (or discomfort) that you are experiencing. If your eyes get red and irritated or start to feel dry as you wear the contacts, your eye doctor would like to know about this.

There are many different brands of contact lenses designed for patients with different demands, and your eye doctor is trained to know which brands might work better for you than others. When you experience any discomfort or redness while wearing your lenses, it may be a sign that a different brand of contacts would work better for you. Many patients don’t realize how many other contact lenses there are out there that they can be fit with. Being fit with the best brand of contact lenses for you is also key to optimizing the health of your eyes.

Step 4: Nighttime Lens Hygiene

Most contact lens wearers are likely to make the majority of their contact lens hygiene mistakes at nighttime. This is because most of your contact lens care occurs at night.

As mentioned, the first step to handling your lenses at nighttime is to wash your hands before removing them. After this, you need to prepare your contact lens case if you are not wearing daily-disposable lenses. Patients who wear monthly or bi-weekly lenses need to completely “dump out” any solution that was in their case from the night before. The solution is designed to protect your contacts and your case from contamination, but it is also gentle enough to interact with your eyes. Therefore, your solution is only good at it’s job for one night’s use. Most patients make the mistake of “topping off” their solution. When this occurs, they simply leave the prior solution in their case and top off the case with a new solution from the bottle. The problem with this is that they are mixing already used and inactive solution with the new solution and this can increase your risk of infection. Therefore, your Optometrist would like you to dump out the prior night’s solution in the morning, avoid rinsing your case with tap water at any point and fill the case up every night with new, fresh solution. Think of this like changing your underwear...you don’t reuse that every day, do you??

Step 5: Shop with your contacts in mind

While at the store, pick up solution for your contacts before running out to prevent topping off. Also, when most patients are asked how often they change their contact lens case, they admit that they haven’t thought about changing it for quite some time. When you buy a solution at the store, it typically comes with a case in the box. Therefore, you should replace your contact lens case every time you need to buy a new bottle of solution. This prevents your case from becoming a petri dish with time. Lastly, some solutions require that the case is updated with a new bottle for the solution to keep working properly.

These simple steps can ensure that your contact lens wearing experience will be a great one. Are you guilty of any of the bad habits above?


One Love,

Dr. Jenna Zigler

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