If you’ve worn contact lenses for a long time, there’s a good chance you aren't always careful with them. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, these are some of the common contact lens hygiene mistakes people make:
- 87.1 percent of people have taken a nap with their contact lenses in
- 84.9 percent of people have taken a shower with their contact lenses in
- 82.3 percent of people don’t replace their contact lens cases as recommended
- 61.0 percent of people have went swimming with their contacts lenses in
- 55.1 percent of people top off their contact lens disinfecting solution (adding new solution to existing solution in the contact lens case instead of emptying and cleaning the case before adding new solution)
- 50.2 percent of people have slept overnight with their contact lenses in
Since your lenses come in direct contact with your eyes, poor contact hygiene can cause infections and hurt the long-term health of your eyes.
To make sure your eyes are comfortable and safe, and that you're maximizing the life of your contact lenses, follow these general do’s and don’ts of wearing them:
- DO wash your hands before handling lenses. Use plain soap and water. Avoid soap with lotion or cream added because it can cloud the lenses.
- DO use the right solution to clean lenses. Cleaning involves gently rubbing the lenses with cleaning solution. Depending on your contacts, you might need to use two different solutions, one for cleaning the other for overnight storage. Or you might be able to use the same solution for cleaning and overnight storage. Follow the cleaning frequency recommended by your doctor.
- DO soak contacts overnight in enough fresh solution to cover the lenses. Never reuse yesterday’s soaking solution. If you don’t use your lenses every day, check the recommendations on when to change the soaking solution.
- DO store lenses in the proper storage case. Wash the case every day, and keep it open and dry until you put the lenses back in to soak. Replace your case every three months.
- DO replace lenses on schedule. Discard old lenses and replace them with new ones as prescribed by your eye doctor.
- DON’T wear lenses while swimming or in the hot tub or sauna. Infection-causing pathogens lurk there.
- DON’T use tap water, distilled water, or homemade saline solutions for lens rinsing or storage. Even after boiling, these non-sterile waters can contain infection-causing microorganisms.
- DON’T put lenses in your mouth. Saliva is full of bacteria and a potential source of infections.
- DON’T use rewetting drops or single-purpose soaking solutions to clean lenses. They won’t do the job.
- DON’T share lenses with other people. Sharing contact lenses not only spreads bacteria, but lenses are prescribed to fit a person’s vision needs.
In addition to the do’s and don’ts listed above, make sure you read and follow the instructions provided with your contact lenses, contact lens storage case, contact lens cleaning solution, and any directions from your doctor.
Lastly, if at any point your contact lenses cloud or change your vision, make your eyes red or irritated, or you feel increased sensitivity when you put them in, stop wearing them and call your doctor.
The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.