Contact lens nightmares

Contact lens nightmares

The disposable contact lens has become a personal care item with a very short life. But do not assume that disposable contact lenses are worry-free just because they’re so convenient. Any lens can become contaminated and cause eye damage.

To be safe, avoid sleeping with lenses in. Even if the contact lenses are labeled “extended wear,” avoid leaving them in every night. You increase the chance of ulcers in the cornea by 5 percent for each night you sleep with extended-wear lenses in. Why? Continuously worn contacts rub away the cornea (the covering of the eyeball). This causes tiny scratches that invite infection and may lead to vision loss. Also, covering the cornea for extended time blocks out oxygen, providing an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Clean and disinfect any time you remove lenses. Whenever you take out your lenses, they must be cleaned as well as disinfected and if you wear the disposable kind, be sure to throw them away at the time prescribed by your doctor.

Clean the lens case, too. Scrub the case with hot water every other day with a toothbrush that’s used only for that purpose.

Never use homemade saline solutions. Use only commercial contact lens preparations and by the instructions each manufacturer provides. Avoid tap water, distilled water and mineral water as these are not sterile, and they may harbor infection-causing impurities

Stick with one lens-care regimen. A disinfecting/cleaning regimen is always specified for your lens type. Whatever the recommended procedure, be sure to stick with it!

Never lick your lenses. Saliva is teeming with bacteria.

Makeup first, lenses second. Use water-based, not oil-based, cosmetics, and apply makeup and hair spray before you put in your lenses. Around the eyes, use water-resistant mascara and apply to lash tips only.

Take out your lenses before swimming. The risk of wearing lenses in a pool or tub is that they may float out if your eyes get wet. With soft lenses, impurities in the water might be absorbed, which could cause infection. If you need to see underwater, get prescription goggles.

Switch to glasses before that big cleaning job. Remove contacts when using volatile household cleaners including those containing ammonia or another strong-smelling chemical.

Remove your contacts if your eyes turn red. If your eyes become irritated, remove your contacts. If the irritation stays after two to three hours, contact your eye specialist. Tears, discharge, redness around the eyes and a change in vision are all indications of eye infection or allergy.