WHY IS CONTACT LENS CARE IMPORTANT?
Contact lenses are available over the counter, and thus contact lens care becomes very important. The types include daily disposable lenses, two weekly and monthly disposable. Easy availability has led to a casual attitude when wearing contact lenses. It’s natural for that to happen, but that does not make it right.
Contact lenses sit on the eye's front surface, i.e. on the cornea. In other words, you are inserting something in your eye, and thus if you don’t take care of that thing, you may harm your eyes.
The most common thing we worry about is eye infections as eye care professionals. These could range from mild to severe. Severe could mean corneal ulcers, turning into a blinding eye condition.
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO TAKE CARE OF MY CONTACT LENSES?
- Always maintain hygiene while wearing and removing contact lenses.
- Always wash your hands with hand wash or soap and water and dry them with a clean cloth.
- Visit your eye doctor if you have any redness, pain, swelling, or irritation.
- Report to your eye doctor for regular follow-ups.
- Follow-up care is of utmost importance, and it is your responsibility to schedule and keep appointments.
- Follow your wearing schedule as prescribed by your optometrist/doctor.
- Keep a storage case and a small bottle of lubricant or saline with you at all times for emergency use.
- Clean and rinse your lens after you remove and store it.
- This cleaning avoids the buildup of tough protein deposits and oily films that are difficult to remove.
- Use a new solution in the storage case each night. When storing lenses in the case, be sure lenses are wholly covered with a solution.
- Rinse the storage case well with warm tap water, then with saline after each use, and let them air dry with the covers off.
- Avoid harmful vapours, dusty environments, and fumes, especially in work areas while wearing lenses. Wear safety glasses if needed. Inform your employer that you wear contact lenses so that they can recommend safety glasses if necessary.
- Avoid contact with sprays and aerosols (hairsprays, deodorants, spray paint, oven cleaner, etc.)
- Use contact lenses before you apply makeup, including lotions and foundations, as well as eye cosmetics such as mascara and eye shadow.
- Remove your contact lenses 1st before you remove your eye makeup.
WHAT SHOULD I NOT DO WHILE WEARING CONTACT LENSES?
- Avoid wearing lenses if you have redness, pain, or infection. And contact your optometrist/doctor.
- Never exceed your wearing schedule by over-wearing lenses.
- Avoid switching or mixing brands of cleaning solutions without your optometrist’s approval.
- Try not to touch the tip of solution bottles; it can contaminate a sterile bottle of contact lens solution.
- Never rinse your lenses with water from the tap, as tap water contains many impurities that can contaminate or damage your lenses, leading to serious eye infections and sometimes loss of vision.
- It would help if you never used saline solution and rewetting drops to disinfect lenses. Neither of them is an effective or approved disinfecting solution.
- Swimming or taking a shower while wearing your lenses is not allowed. Any water (i.e. rain or tears) may flush lenses out of your eyes and cause various eye infections.
- You are not allowed to sleep in your lenses without your optometrist’s approval.
- Sharing your contact lenses with anyone is not allowed.
WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS REPLACEMENT SCHEDULES FOR CONTACT LENS CARE?
- Lenses: As mentioned above, never overuse or wear your contact lenses over time. Always follow your optometrist /doctor guidelines in taking contact lens care.
- Contact Lens Solution: Solution bottles have an expiry date which should follow from the date of opening the bottle.
Even if the contact lens solution remains and the bottle says expiry from 1 month of opening, please avoid using it if the month is up.
- Case of Contact Lens: One should wash his lens case every week and replace it. Replace it with a new one every 1 to 3 months. If it gets cracked or damaged, replace it immediately to avoid eye infections or dust accumulation.
Can I put drops while I am wearing contact lenses?
The above is one of the most common questions people ask.
If you have a small amount of dryness that comes at the mid or end of the day after removing the lenses, these eye drops can help a lot.
Drops will not only help to take care of the dryness or dry eyes but also will:
- Re-wet the lenses in the eyes themselves and make the eye surface wet and moist.
- Remove loose dust particles then and there themselves.
- Avoid any dust accumulation and increase comfort.
- Also, it will decrease friction between contact lenses and the lid and increase lens comfortability.
- These eye drops come under a common name: re-wetting, contacts lubricating eye drops, etc.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SEE UNEXPECTED REACTIONS (PROBLEMS)
If you notice any issue with your contact lenses, such as:
- More discomfort than when you first wore the lens
- Excessive watering
- Reduced sharpness of vision
- Blurred vision
- Sensitiveness to light, you should:
- Instantly remove your lenses.
- If the discomfort or problem stops, then look closely at the lens. If the lens is in any way damaged, do not put the lens back on your eye. Place the lens in the storage case and contact your eye care professional.
- If the lens has dirt, an eyelash, or other foreign body on it, or the problem stops, you should thoroughly rinse and disinfect the lenses; then try to reinsert them.
- If the problem continues after reinsertion, you should promptly remove the lenses and consult your eye care professional.
- A serious condition may be present when any of the above problems continue. It would help if you kept the lens off your eye until your eye care specialist could identify the problem.
FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS VERY PROPERLY
- Keep the schedule your eye doctor gives you for wearing and replacing your lenses.
- Follow directions from your doctor, contact lens maker, lens cleaning solution producer to clean and store your lenses.
- If you store your lenses in the case for a long time, read your instructions to see if you should re-disinfect them before wearing them.
- Never wear your contact lenses if they were stored for 30 days or longer without re-disinfecting.
- Keep your eye exam appointments. Contact lenses can warp over time, and your cornea can change shape.
- See your eye doctor regularly to make sure your lenses fit properly, and the prescription is right for you.
- Do not shower, swim, or do anything where water gets in your eyes when wearing contacts.
- Do not sleep in daily wear lenses without consulting your optometrist or eye doctor. That is where you will need a contact lens consultation.
In conclusion, remember there are specific solutions for specific contact lens companies. An optometrist / Doctor can suggest the best solutions, and you should avoid switching.
Always ask for any doubts so that you don’t get confused and continue your contact lens wear safely and healthily.