Contact lenses are popular alternatives to wearing prescription glasses. These lenses move with your eye and do not have frames that impede your vision. They do not fog up when you leave an air-conditioned room, unlike glasses. Also, they can make people more confident about themselves. However, you must use them carefully and as directed by your optometrist to avoid eye problems.
Here are tips on proper contact lens wear and what you can do to avoid eye infection.
Kinds of Eye Infections
The bacteria on your skin, mouth and nose are typically harmless, but a significant amount of them on your contacts can be dangerous. In some cases, sleeping in your contacts can cause a small scrape on your eye, which can also be threatening.
Staphylococcus aureus is present in the nose of around a third of people. It can easily reach your eyes through your hand, and it can be difficult to treat. Another harmful bacteria that can be detrimental to your eyes is Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It can cause a fast-moving infection of the cornea, which can leave a hole in the eye. When not addressed immediately, it can result in permanent vision loss.
To avoid eye infection from this bacteria, make sure to wash your hands before touching your contacts. You should also disinfect your lenses and lens case regularly, and replace both as instructed by your eye doctor. Specialists usually prescribe antibiotic eye drops for mild bacterial infections.
Most times, pink eye results from the common cold virus, which can easily spread to your other eye or another person. You may need to wait out a viral infection, but your doctor may suggest using a cool compress and artificial tears. To ease the swelling, steroid eye drops may also be prescribed.
One-cell organisms, called acanthamoeba live in the water of taps, pools, and hot tubs. They can easily infect your eyes if you are wearing contacts while in the water. This is just one reason you should not wear contacts while in the water or use water to clean and store them. Severe keratitis caused by these parasites can be difficult to treat, and a cornea transplant may even be necessary.
While fungal infections are rare, they are dangerous when they hit your eyes because they can lead to blindness. This kind of infection is usually treated with antifungal eye drops or pills.
Signs of Contact Lens Infection
The most common signs of contact lens-related infections include blurry vision, eye pain, unusual redness, light sensitivity, discharge from the eye, and the feeling of having a foreign object in your eye. Remember that some kinds of contact lens-related infections can result in vision loss or blindness. If you are experiencing discomfort while wearing your contacts, make sure to remove them immediately and contact your eye doctor as soon as possible. You should ask your doctor if you can continue wearing the same lenses if you are recovering from an illness. Sometimes, you should discard contacts to prevent further complications.
How to Avoid Contact Lens Infection
Rub Your Contacts When Cleaning Them
Wash your hands thoroughly before cleaning your lenses. Lay your lens in your palm with a fresh, store-bought solution. Rub the lens gently to loosen the protein and bacteria build-up on its surface. You should still rub the lenses even if the solution indicates that it is “no rub.” Studies show that rubbing lenses is one of the easiest ways to prevent eye infections.
Rinse Your Lenses With Solution
Do not forget to rinse and store your contact lenses with its appropriate solution. Never use homemade saline because it contains harmful germs that can cause vision loss and even blindness. Be sure to replace the solution in your case every day and the lens case every three months. Using a case for too long can contribute to bacterial buildup.
Let Your Eyes Rest from Contact Lens Wear
As much as possible, allow your eyes to rest from wearing contact lenses. You should also never sleep in your contacts because it increases the risk of developing an eye infection. Experts suggest you should not wear contacts for more than eight hours. There are no strict rules about how long you should wear your contacts, but it still depends on the type and quality of the lenses you are wearing. When getting contact lenses, check the specified wearing time, cleaning instructions, and expiry date to avoid irritation.
Dispose Of Your Lenses as Recommended
You should not use your contact lenses beyond the time that they must be replaced. Only wear lenses as long as your eye doctor recommends. For instance, three-month contact lenses should only be worn for 90 days after opening the package.
Get Regular Eye Exams
Keep on track with your vision and eye health by regularly visiting your eye doctor. Routine eye exams can determine if you need an updated prescription for your eyeglasses or contact lenses. It can also help detect and treat vision loss-causing eye conditions in their early stages.
More Contact Lens Wear Tips
Proper Contact Lens Wear if You Have Dry Eyes or Eye Strain
If you have dry eyes, eye drops can help avoid discomfort while wearing contacts. However, you can’t just simply use any kind of eye drops. Ask your ophthalmologist which eye drops are ideal to use with your contact lenses and how often you should use them. Switching to your glasses from time to time may also give you relief. For instance, when you arrive at home after work, place your contacts in the case with a disinfecting solution, and wear your glasses instead.
You Still Need to Wear Sunglasses Even With Contacts On
Some contact lenses come with a UV filter to keep your cornea protected against harmful ultraviolet rays. However, contact lenses do not offer complete protection against UV radiation since they only cover a part of your eye. It is still best to wear UV-block sunglasses when you are heading outside, especially when it is sunny.
Is Wearing Contacts Ideal for You?
Contact lenses are not ideal for everyone and your eye doctor may not suggest wearing them for various reasons. One of which is if you get a lot of eye infections. If you have severe allergies or dry eyes that are difficult to treat, contacts are not ideal as well. It is the same for those living in very dusty locations and people who cannot take proper care of their contacts.
For you to be able to wear contacts comfortably and see clearly, your cornea and tear film must be in good shape. If you want to wear contacts, you must be responsible when it comes to cleaning and taking care of the lenses. It would help to consult an eye care specialist to determine your vision needs, expectations, and options. An eye doctor can help determine which vision correction option fits your needs.