If you look after your contact lenses correctly, they’ll look after you. To help you maintain your lenses, here are some rules not to break.
It might be tempting to try and squeeze one more day, or even a few more hours, out of your lenses, but this is a bad idea. Bupa optometrist Karen Makin says it’s very important not to exceed your optometrist’s advice on contact lens wear. Once or twice, it probably won’t be an issue, but in the long term it can cause harm.
“If you wear your contact lenses for more hours every single day, your eyes are going to get potentially sore and tired,” Makin says.
When you’re inserting your lenses, place them on the white part of the eye, not the cornea (the clear window over the coloured part of your eye).
“Then, by moving your eye around, shift the lenses onto the centre of your eye,” Makin says. “In removal, you don’t want to take the lens straight off the cornea either. You want to slide it down onto the white part of your eye and take it off from there. That helps to avoid scratching and damage to the cornea.”
For more information on how to put in contact lenses safely, and how to remove them, click here.
Don’t wear contact lenses overnight unless your optometrist says it’s safe. With some types of contact lenses, sleeping while wearing them could reduce oxygen to your cornea, potentially causing damage to your eyes.
“Your optometrist might say occasional overnight wear is fine – say, if you get caught out – or recommend regular overnight wear with removal once a week,” says Makin. “But this is only okay if advised by your optometrist.”
If your eyes are irritated, red or sore, switch to glasses until your eyes are healthier, Makin says.
“And if you’re not feeling well – you’ve got a cold, for example – try to avoid putting your lenses in,” she says. “It could irritate your eyes more. However, if you have to wear your contact lenses ensure you remove them as soon as possible and discard them so you don’t reintroduce the infection to your eyes by wearing them again.”
Your contact lenses are for your eyes only. Wearing someone else’s lenses, or letting them wear your lenses, is a hygiene risk. Plus, you could damage your eyes by wearing lenses that don’t fit you correctly.
“I have heard about young girls sharing coloured contact lenses among a group,” Makin says. “Please don’t do that because we’ve seen some really nasty stuff happen.”
Always inspect your lens for damage before inserting it into your eye, recommends Makin.
“If there’s any bits of lint on it, try to remove them or give the lens a good rinse with contact lens solution before putting it in your eye,” she says. “If a lens is torn, you shouldn’t wear it.”
Your lenses must be cleaned and disinfected only with the solutions recommended by your optometrist – not water or saliva.
“I’ve seen people remove a hard contact lens from their eye, stick it in their mouth and coat it with saliva, and stick it back in their eye – please don’t do that,” says Makin.
And always check the expiry date of your cleaning solution – if it’s expired, don’t use it.