They become such a part of our daily routine that sometimes we forget – contact lenses are medical devices that need care and maintenance. We’ve put together some practical ways to help you keep your contact lenses in the best condition, and make sure they’re comfortable and long-lasting.
It’s not nice to talk about, but poor lens hygiene doesn’t just cause issues with your lenses – it can give you an eye infection, too. “Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before you put your contact lenses in or take them out,” says Bupa optometrist Karen Makin.
She also recommends having a good look at your lenses before putting them in. “If there are any bits of lint, try to remove them or give the lens a good rinse in cleaning solution before putting it in your eye,” says Makin.
Find more information on how to put in contact lenses safely, and how to remove them.
It can be tempting to leave them in at times, but wearing contact lenses for longer than prescribed can lead to eye infections and other complications. If you’re prescribed dailies, change them, well, daily! If you aren’t meant to sleep in your lenses, don’t – yes, even if you’re really tired.
“It’s really important to follow your optometrist’s advice around your wearing schedule – how long you can wear them each day and for how many days,” says Makin. “It isn’t a good idea to try and make a fortnightly pair stretch for three weeks, or go for too long without giving your eyes a break.”
Got reusable contacts? Clean and disinfect them every time you use them, with a cleaning solution – never with tap water, saliva, detergent, soap or any other household cleaner. Also, don’t use cleaning solution if it’s past its expiration date, advises Makin.
It’s best to only use cleaning solutions provided by your optometrist. “A lot of people go and buy something different at the supermarket,” Makin says. “In some cases the solution may not be as effective, especially in the disinfecting process, as the one you’re given by your optometrist.”
When you’re showering, Makin recommends closing your eyes when you’re putting your head under the water stream, to protect your lenses from the very small risk of infection.
You can still go swimming while wearing contact lenses, provided you wear goggles. Find out more information on when to wear or remove contact lenses.
Love wearing eye make-up? Soft contact lenses should be inserted before your eye make-up goes on, and hard lenses are better applied afterwards. But no matter what lenses you wear, make sure to take them out before removing eye make-up at the end of the day or night.
If you’re wearing contacts and start getting blurry vision, eye pain, extreme sensitivity to light, slipping or movement of the lens, red or dry eyes – make an appointment with your optometrist.
Also, trust yourself if you’re feeling like they’re not quite right. “A large number of new contact lens wearers drop out in the first three to six months of lens wear, and that’s mainly due to discomfort,” says Makin. “If you’re feeling uncomfortable, go and see your optometrist.”
How do teeny-tiny bits of plastic help you see better? Here’s an explainer on how contact lenses work.
Contact lenses are popular for a reason – they make life much easier for many people with vision issues. However, they might not be the right option for everyone.
Different types of contact lenses suit different lifestyles and vision problems. If you’re considering contact lenses, this is what you need to know about the options.