Whether you wear daily disposables or extended-wear lenses, every pair of contact lenses requires some TLC. So, to mark National Eye Health Week UK (24th – 30th September) the team at The Contact Lens Practice is on a mission to educate our patients on how to care for your contact lenses.
To launch our campaign, we’ve compiled ten vital tips to ensure you keep your lenses in good condition and your eyes in good health…
Keep Them Clean
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but the first tip on how to care for your contact lenses is to keep them clean. During day-to-day wear, contact lenses naturally accumulate a film of protein deposits and debris. If you wear daily disposable contact lenses the problem is easily rectified by discarding lenses when you take them out, however extended-wear or monthly contact lenses require a bit more attention.
Learn Your Routine
To properly clean your lenses, place one lens in the centre of your palm, add a generous amount of solution and gently rub it back and forth for 20 seconds with the tip of your finger. Rinse with solution and store overnight in fresh solution in the correct chamber of your case. Repeat with the second lens to ensure you remember which lens belongs to which eye!
Wash Your Hands
Whenever you’re handling contact lenses make sure you have clean hands. Touching your eyes with dirty fingers can expose them to bacteria and grit that could scratch your eyes’ surface and cause infection.
Before putting your lenses in and taking them out, always wash your hands with mild soap and dry them with a lint-free towel. Avoid using soaps that contain cream or lotion before handling contact lenses as these oily substances might transfer onto your lenses.
Stick to the Schedule
Different types of contact lenses are specifically designed for different wearing times. As their name suggests, daily disposable contact lenses are designed for one-time wear, while extended-wear lenses or monthly contact lenses should be removed each evening and replaced to schedule.
Some lenses are designed for longer term wear (up to a year) and are suitable for sleeping in, while Ortho-K lenses should only be worn during the night. But whatever your lens type, it is vitally important to stick to your optometrist’s replacement schedule to avoid infection.
Discard Damaged Lenses
If you experience any discomfort whilst wearing your lenses – including symptoms such as stinging, burning, itching, blurred vision or sensitivity to light – you should immediately remove your lenses.
Whilst you’re handling contact lenses, if they’re damaged or torn you need to discard them immediately. If they contain a piece of debris (e.g. an eyelash or piece of dirt) they need to be thoroughly cleaned, rinsed and disinfected before attempting to reinsert. If symptoms persist you should consult an optometrist.
Follow the Solution
There are a variety of contact lens solutions on offer – some will be compatible with your prescription, others won’t. We tailor our recommendations according to individual prescription, preferences and allergies, so make sure to stick to the solution recommended by your optometrist.
Nowadays, multipurpose solutions make the job of looking after your lenses simple, with one product used to clean, disinfect, rinse and store your lenses, but if you experience discomfort we may advise a complete care system with separate disinfectants and cleaning solutions.
Make sure your lens solution is fresh and within its expiry date and follow our optometrist’s advice with regards to contact lens case care.
Never Rinse With Tap Water
Tap water should never be used as a replacement for solution – tap water contains many impurities, including the microorganism Acanthamoeba that can cause serious eye infections. Other strange ‘alternatives’ such as saliva, soap or milk should also never be used instead of solution.
After cleaning and handling contact lenses, they should be stored in the corresponding left/right chambers of your contact lens case and soaked in solution overnight.
They can be stored in this way for up to 30 days. Contact lens case care is important as these containers can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so when you remove your lenses for wear, your storage case should be emptied, cleaned with fresh solution and left to air dry after each use. You should also replace your lens case regularly to avoid build up of dirt and bacteria.
Some contact lens wearers experience dryness as the day progresses, so your optometrist may recommend lubricating eye drops to keep your contacts and the surface of your eyes moist. Only use specialist eye drops for contact lenses – as non-specialist products can warp or discolour your lens and lead to discomfort.
Regular Eye Examinations
There are many benefits to wearing contact lenses, but putting anything into your eye exposes you to greater risk of contracting an eye infection. So whether you wear daily disposable contact lenses or monthly contact lenses, it’s important to book in regular comprehensive eye examinations and contact lens check ups to ensure we’re on top of your prescription, identify any abnormalities with your vision and offer guidance on how to care for your contact lenses.
We look forward to seeing you soon!