Proper care of contact lenses

contact pictureNext week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is sponsoring its first Contact Lens Health Week. Since more than 34 million Americans wear contact lenses, this topic is absolutely important and definitely a little late in coming.

While I would love to say that all of my patients have perfect hygiene habits, many of them do not. I have heard of patients sleeping in their contacts for months on end, using tap water to store them, and cleaning them in their mouths after falling out. Yes, the last one is true

So, after listening to my patients, here is my top ten list for caring for your contacts and your eyes:

  1. Wash your hands before handling your lenses.
  2. Keep your contact lens case clean and let it air dry.
  3. Change your case with every new bottle of solution.
  4. Use name brand solution and never top off your solution (always use new solution!).
  5. Throw your lenses out at the doctor prescribed interval.
  6. Even if your lenses are approved for overnight wear, it is a whole lot safer if you don’t.
  7. The solution may say no rub, rub anyway.
  8. Saline solution is not disinfecting, you need to use a proper solution.
  9. Contact lens solution is not a good rewetting drop. Ask your doctor for a good choice.
  10. Daily disposable contacts are the safest choice for those who swim. Open water and hot tubs are especially dangerous pathogens love these conditions.

The bottom line is that if you follow the rules, contacts can be a very safe and effective way to see better. Just remember to see your doctor every year to make sure that your contacts are still the best choice for your eyes. Your optometrist can be a great resource so make sure to ask questions during your exam and let them know if you are experiencing any difficulties with your lenses.

~ David C. Ardaya, O.D.
California Optometric Association

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