10 Safety Tips for Contact Lens Wearers
Jack Huber | July 29, 2016 Nov 16, 2016
The choice to eschew eyeglasses is usually one of practicality, comfort or vanity. All fine reasons. But “the natural look” that contact lenses offer comes with some adjustments. Touching the eyeball seems to be the barrier most need to overcome. But once that’s accomplished, you’ll want to be aware of a few safety precautions, too. Not coincidentally, we’ve provided those precautions right here.
Make Sure the Lenses Aren’t Inside Out
The first basic question that most newbies ask is how to tell if they’re putting the lens in the right way. It’s a subtle difference at first, but easy to spot once you’ve done it a few times. Just place the lens on your fingertip. If the lens forms a symmetrical “U” on your finger, you’re good to go. If it’s upside down, the edges will flare out like a soup bowl.
Don’t Try to Get Extra Time
Disposable contacts last anywhere from a day to two weeks. Others last several months. Conventional soft lenses may last up to a year. The point is that you have options, but it’s vital to stay within the timeline boundaries. We won’t try to tell you that stretching those boundaries will make your eyes fall out, but we can warn you that it makes eye infections more likely.
Beware of Sleeping With Contact Lenses In
Some types of contacts are approved for overnight use – up to a limited time period. However, about half of the people who wear the unapproved ones admit that they have fallen asleep with them in. (We suspect a higher percentage, but you be the judge.) Making a habit of sleeping in contact lenses not made for sleep can result in corneal infection, extreme pain, light sensitivity, or vision loss.
Make Sure Your Hands Are Clean
Putting your contact lens in should be the first thing you do after your morning washing ritual (whatever that may be). Mid-day applications should only follow a thorough hand-washing. Of course, you know all that. Just the same, the scurrying about of the normal day may rush you into shortcuts. Don’t let it.
Store Your Lenses Properly
(If you have opted for daily disposable contact lenses, please move on to the next item.) OK, now that they’re gone, we can tell you that storage is simpler than those folks probably imagined. You just need to be sure to regularly rinse your lens case with a disinfecting solution, and air dry it (face down) to prevent debris. Replace the case when it’s cracked – or every six months or so. That’s it!
Your Saliva Is Not a Cleaning Supply
Maybe your shoes can survive a “spit shine,” but your contact lenses cannot. Nothing personal, but your saliva is chock-full of bacteria. And as we are all well aware, bacteria can lead to infections and the very bad consequences that infections are known for. The simple solution – carry a travel-size bottle of cleaning solution. (See what we did there?)
Always Use Fresh Cleaning Solution
You may think of it as recycling, but when it comes to cleaning those tiny items you are depending on for your very vision – “used” solution is not the way to go. Saving a few dollars is usually a good idea, too, but not here. Repeated washes in the same solution are like dips in a filthy swamp. True, there are no gators, but the damage you can do to your eyes could be serious and permanent.
Take the Time to Clean Your Contacts Correctly
If you thought that your contact lenses would provide you hours and hours of free time that you once spent cleaning your glasses – well, that was just a dream world. But the upside is that the process is no more complicated than cleaning eyeglasses. You need only remember to use sterile contact lens solution – never tap water (that’s likely to contain deposits that build up on your contacts).
Learn Your Removal Technique
Remove lenses over a sink, if possible (with a paper towel covering the drain). Look up or sideways, pulling down on your lower eyelid. Maneuver the lens onto the white of your eye, gently pinch the lens with your index finger and thumb and lift it off your eye. While you’re learning, you may want to keep your nails short to avoid scratching your eye.
Contact Lenses and Makeup
Always put your lenses in before you apply your makeup. Besides the obvious impurities that oils, creams or lotions might transfer to your contacts – you’ll be able to see what you’re doing, thereby avoiding a potential cosmetic nightmare.