7 gross things contact lens wearers shouldn't do
Contact lenses are great for those who don’t like glasses, but even with such great innovation comes a few things you shouldn’t do to carefully enjoy them.
1. Going to sleep in them
Sleeping in contact lenses might not seem like a big deal but some lenses are made of a flexible plastic which reduces the oxygen flow to the cornea. The cornea is that clear covering on your eye and it relies on the oxygen in the air to survive - basically your eyes need a break at night and by keeping your lenses in over night, you’re increasing your chance of getting an infection and depriving your eyes of much needed oxygen they’ve been looking forward to while you’ve been wearing lenses all day. Some brands do allow you to wear your lenses at bed time, but generally speaking, it’s better for your eye health to always remove lenses before you sleep.
Bupa Optometrist Karen Makin says there are exceptions to this rule. ‘If you have been prescribed lenses that are suitable for sleep and your optometrist has approved lens wear while sleeping, that’s perfectly fine. If you don’t know if you can sleep in your lenses, ask.’
2. Swimming or showering in them
It’s actually okay to wear some lenses in water but disposables should be discarded immediately after use in water and extended wear lenses should be cleaned thoroughly before putting them back in your eye. Makin says ‘Contacts are fantastic for water sports so we don’t want lens wearers to feel disadvantaged - just ask your optometrist the best practice for the type of lenses you wear and always wear goggles for water sports if you’re a lens wearer.’ Viruses and dangerous microbes love water and these viruses can easily attach themselves to your lenses and get trapped in-between the lens and your eye. Keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), is associated with swimming while wearing contact lenses, so make sure you maintain good cleaning practices around water.
3. Not changing them regularly
All contact lenses have their own shelf life so make sure you pay attention to the instructions that came with the packaging. You must not wear them for longer than the recommended timeframe for several reasons. The longer you have them, the more you handle them, which increases the risk of bacterial infection from an outside source. Contact lenses are made and maintained with chemicals that have their own used by date so you may not be protected by the lens company if you continue to use the product after the recommended used by date.
4. Re-using the same solution
Contact solution is incredibly effective for cleaning lenses but only if it’s poured fresh every time you clean them. Tepid solution left for days in the open air is a honey pot for bacteria so always remember - fresh is best!
5. Not cleaning your contact case
Wash your lens case at least once a week with soap and water, rinse it well, and let it air dry thoroughly. Don’t dry it with a towel or cloth. It could leave microfibers in the case that could make its way onto the lens and consequently, into your eye. Makin also recommends replacing your case regularly. ‘Replacement contact lense solutions usually come with a new case so definitely replace the case when you receive a new one in your new pack.’
6. Not washing your hands before you touch your lenses
This one seems like a no brainer but it’s an absolute must. Bacteria can easily be transferred from your hands, to your lenses and then to your eyes so make sure you wash your hands very carefully every time you touch your lenses.
7. Wearing your contact lenses when your eyes are sore and itchy
It doesn’t matter how much you hate your glasses, you must not wear contact lenses when your eyes are itchy and sore. You could have an infection that will only get worse if covered with contact lenses.
Bonus tip from our expert Karen Makin
‘Never, ever ‘clean’ your lenses by putting them in your mouth. It’s not clean in there - contact lens solution is the only thing you should ever clean your lenses with.’
If you have any questions or are not sure about how to use your contact lenses, it’s best to talk to a professional Optometrist. You can find your local Bupa Optical store here to book an appointment.