How to Maintain and Clean Your Contact Lenses

The popularity of contact lenses over eye glasses continue to grow at a remarkable rate. In fact, 25 million people worldwide wear contact lenses. It does not take a lot to see the benefits of lenses, including enhanced function and comfort. If you’re interested in contact lenses, it’s vital that you understand the method and practices to maintain them properly.

A contact lens is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medical device that can only be prescribed to you by an eye care practitioner. Lenses should never be purchased in beauty supply stores, salons, or flea markets. When you choose contact lenses, it is important to keep a back-up pair of glasses readily available in the case of irritants that may arise, including seasonal allergies, sinus pressure, or a cold.

How to Find the Right Fit

After speaking to a doctor about whether or not contact lenses are right for you, he or she will begin the examination process in order to fit you for the right lenses. The doctor will take measurements of your corneal curvature in order to determine which lens would fit without being too tight or too loose. If a contact lens fits over the cornea too tightly, it could cut off the oxygen to the eye leading to swelling or blurred vision. This process is intricate, yet important to maintaining your eye health.

Once you have been prescribed the right contact lenses, it’s important to understand the importance of proper maintenance. To avoid any disruption in your vision, which can include everything from a minor irritation to an eye infection, you have to regularly cleanse and dispose of your contacts when required.

Disposable contact lenses should generally be replaced on an every day, every two weeks, or every month time line. Read through the details of your prescription so you know when they should be replaced and comply with those regulations in order to avoid any type of eye injury. Some people will use the prescription directions as more of an estimate. As a result, they will wear contact lenses as long as they feel moderately comfortable then replace them when they start to feel “old.” This practice is the fastest way to create an environment of bacteria, protein, and debris build up.

When you leave your contacts in for longer than the recommended replacement time, the lens will accumulate a buildup of bacteria that causes the cornea to become inflamed. The inflammation can lead to redness, tearing, light sensitivity, and pain. If the problem progresses, white blood cells will accumulate and cause a white spot on the cornea that could become visible on the eye. If left untreated, the spot may form into a permanent scar, which will affect the vision. More importantly, a bacterial infection in the eye can cause an ulcer on the cornea, which is both painful and often permanent.

When you rinse or clean your contact lenses, avoid tap water or reused solution. This cleansing practice can lead to a fungal infection that may be hard to treat and lead to a corneal transplant. Also, avoid sleeping in contact lenses as it can lead to an infection as well. When your eyes are closed, oxygen is cut off from the eye thus your lenses will dry overnight. If you’d like the option of being able to sleep in your contact lenses, ask your doctor about “highly breathable” lenses.

When the proper hygiene practices are in place, contact lenses can be comfortable, easy to wear, and safe. If you have any questions or would like to learn more tips about cleaning and maintaining your lenses, contact your eye care professional today.