So inexpensive and easy to wear are contact lenses that it can be easy to forget they’re medical devices that require care and maintenance. These practical tips will help you keep your contact lenses in optimal condition, maximising comfort and wearability.
Poor lens hygiene can cause problems with contact lenses as well as eye infections, so it’s important to practise hand hygiene before you touch your lenses. “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 inspecting 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.
For more information on how to put in contact lenses safely, and how to remove them, click here.
Wearing contact lenses for longer than prescribed can lead to eye infections and other complications. If you’re prescribed dailies, change them daily. If you aren’t meant to sleep in your lenses, don’t – even if you get home super late.
“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.”
Reusable contact lenses must be cleaned and disinfected after each use with a cleaning solution – never with tap water, saliva, detergent, soap or any other household cleaner. Never 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. For more information on when to wear or remove contact lenses, click here.
Do you wear eye make-up? Soft contact lenses should be inserted before your eye make-up goes on, and hard lenses are better applied afterwards.
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 anything out of the ordinary happens with your contact lenses – such as blurry vision, eye pain, extreme sensitivity to light, slipping or movement of the lens, red or dry eyes – make an appointment with your optometrist.
The same goes for a general feeling that things aren’t quite right. “A huge 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.”