For people who find wearing prescription glasses inconvenient, contact lenses are a great alternative to see clearly. These thin, curved pieces of polymer or silicone-hydrogel are used to correct various vision problems, like astigmatism, far-sightedness, and near-sightedness by focusing light directly on the retina—just like eyeglasses would. The key difference is that contact lenses sit directly on the eyes, which makes them perfect for those who don’t want to be bothered by eyeglass frames.
However, contact lenses are more high maintenance compared to eyeglasses. Unless you’re using daily disposable contacts, you’ll need to clean your contact lenses thoroughly or else you may experience one or more of the following eye issues:
- Eye Infections: Contact lenses that are improperly stored or cleaned can be contaminated by bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that can cause serious eye infections.
- Corneal Ulcers: When your contacts are dirty or if you wear them longer than you should, you increase the risk of corneal ulcers. These are painful sores that grow in the cornea.
- Corneal Warping: Depending on the situation, an eye specialist in Singapore may prescribe rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses instead of soft ones. RGPs are contacts that are made from a firm, oxygen-permeable material that allows the eyes to breathe. If not well taken care of, RGP lenses can warp the cornea and distort one’s vision.
- Corneal Abrasions: Poorly fitted or handled contact lenses can scratch the cornea, causing abrasions. If not treated early, the abrasions can increase the risk of eye infections.
- Reduced Vision: Inadequate contact lens care can cause blurry or reduced vision, defeating the purpose of wearing contacts in the first place.
Moreover, when you don’t take care of your contact lenses, you’re going to need to buy replacements more frequently and this can get expensive in the long run. Here are some tips for proper contact lens care to keep your eyes healthy.
Proper Contact Lens Care
Always Wash Your Hands Before Handling Them
Before handling your contacts, make sure that your hands are clean. This can prevent the transfer of dirt, oil, and bacteria onto your lenses. It’s recommended to use mild, non-perfumed soap when washing your hands. That’s because soaps with added moisturizers or fragrances can leave particles or residue on your hands, which can then contaminate your contacts.
Clean and Rinse Your Contact Lenses Thoroughly
It’s essential to clean and rinse your contact lenses properly to maintain their clarity, comfort, and safety. If you don’t, you’re likely to experience eye discomfort, blurred vision, and even eye infections. A great way to keep your contacts in pristine condition is to follow a simple lens cleaning routine.
- Step 1: After removing your lenses, place one lens in the palm of your hand and add a few drops of the recommended contact lens solution. Use your fingertip to gently rub the lens in a circular motion to remove protein, lipid deposits, and other particles that have accumulated on the lens surface.
- Step 2: Rinse the lens with additional solution to remove any loosened debris and ensure the lens is free of cleaning solution.
- Step 3: Perform the same cleaning and rinsing steps for the other lens.
Store Them Properly
Storing your contact lenses correctly helps preserve their quality and comfort, as well as prevent contamination. That’s why it’s important to always use a clean, disinfected contact lens case. It’s also a good idea to replace your contact lens case regularly, as bacterial build-up can occur in old and overused cases. It’s ideal to replace your contact lens case about every three months or as recommended by your eye care professional.
Finally, make sure to place your contacts in a clean, dry area. Keep them away from direct sunlight or excessive moisture to protect it from damage and bacterial growth.
Follow the Wearing Schedule Prescribed by Your Doctor
Your eye care professional will provide you with a specific wearing schedule for your contact lenses based on your eye health, the type of lenses you use, and your lifestyle. Adhering to this schedule will help maintain good eye health and ensure that your contacts stay in good shape for longer. Note that different contact lens materials have varying wear times; some are designed for daily wear and should be removed before bedtime, while others are approved for continuous wear.
Don’t Sleep While Your Contact Lenses are Still On
Unless your eye care professional has specifically prescribed extended wear contact lenses, it’s crucial to remove your lenses before going to sleep. Sleeping with contact lenses on can lead to several problems, including:
- Reduced Oxygen Supply: When your eyes are closed during sleep, the cornea gets less oxygen. Contact lenses can further impede oxygen flow, potentially leading to complications like corneal hypoxia.
- Risk of Infection: Sleeping in contact lenses increases the risk of eye infections, as bacteria and other microorganisms have more time to adhere to the lens.
- Dryness and Discomfort: If you sleep with your lenses on, it can lead to dry eyes and discomfort when you wake up. Your lenses can also become adhered to the surface of your eyes, making them more difficult to remove.
It’s essential to follow your eye care professional’s recommendations regarding the wearing schedule for your contact lenses. If you mistakenly fall asleep with your lenses on, remove them as soon as you wake up and give your eyes a break. Get in touch with your eye care professional if you experience persistent discomfort or vision changes.
Taking care of your contact lenses is part of good eye health and hygiene. When your contacts are in pristine condition, you’re less likely to get eye infections and you won’t feel any discomfort when wearing them. Sure, contact lens maintenance might take a few minutes of your day, but it’s a small price to pay to ensure that you can see clearly without worrying about experiencing eye problems.