Many Americans suffer from an eye condition requiring them to wear corrective lenses. If you do not want to wear corrective lenses, then a popular alternative is to wear contact lenses. For many, contact lenses are more convenient to wear than glasses. If you have a job requiring you to wear anything on your face, then glasses can get in the way or may cause safety risks. If you have never worn contacts before, then the idea of inserting contacts into your eyes may be intimidating.
Contact lenses are safe if you take care of them. When you first get your contact lenses, you are more likely to follow all the instructions. If you have been wearing contact lenses for years, then it is easy to overlook safety procedures. You do not want to fall into this bad habit since it can potentially damage your eyes. Learn about the best contact lens practices below.
Do Not Wear Contact Lenses Past Their Expiration Date
If you want to look after your eyes and your contact lenses, then you need to make sure you only wear your lenses for the recommended time. All types of contact lenses have expiration dates, from prescriptions ones purchased with vision insurance to those bought for cosmetic reasons. Contact lenses are exposed to the fluids in your eyes, which means the lenses deteriorate over time and therefore need to be changed regularly.
If you ignore the lifespan and wear them for longer than is generally recommended, then you could find yourself with serious eye problems. These can range from irritation and itchiness to full-blown infections and diseases. Specific complications that can arise from wearing your contact lenses for longer than you are supposed to wear them include dry eyes, where your cornea loses sensation, and corneal ulcers, where open sores on the outer layer of your cornea create a painful burning sensation.
Different types of contact lenses have different expiration dates, which may vary based on brand or generic prescription. At the end of the day, make sure you follow the instructions for the contact lenses you have been prescribed. Unless otherwise stated, you must wear contact lenses for the following times:
- Daily disposable lenses – These must be discarded after wearing them each day.
- Disposable lenses – These need to be replaced every two weeks.
- Frequent replacement lenses – These have a lifespan of either one month or three months.
- Reusable lenses – These traditional contact lenses need to be changed every six months. Some reusable lenses are available with longer lives.
Caring for Your Contact Lenses
The type of contact lenses you have determine how you go about caring for them. Your eye doctor can inform you of how to care for them at the time of being prescribed your lenses. There are some general rules for cleaning and taking care of your lenses though, including the following:
- Before you handle your contact lenses, make sure you wash your hands with a mild soap and rinse them well. Do not use soap containing oils or perfumes, as they can leave a film on your hands. If this film gets onto your lenses, then you could end up with irritation or blurry vision. Make sure you dry your hands with a clean, lint-free towel too.
- Never place tap water or distilled water directly onto your lenses. If you do not follow this rule, then you could end up with an infection or you could hurt your vision. This is because water can be home to tiny bugs.
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- You do not want any materials to contaminate your contact lenses. If you use hairspray, then use it prior to putting in your contact lenses. Similarly, if you wear makeup, then apply it before you put in your lenses and take your lenses out before you remove your makeup.
- When it comes to cleaning your contact lenses, always use the special care products you have been told to use. These include eye drops, enzymatic cleaners and disinfecting solution.
To clean a contact lens, place it in the palm of your hand and rub it softly with your index finger. By rubbing your lens, you remove surface buildup. You need to clean your contact lens case with either hot water or a sterile solution every time you use it to ensure the buildup has been properly removed. Make sure you let it dry naturally. Your lens case must ideally be replaced every three months.
Every time you clean and disinfect your contact lenses, use a new solution. Do not reuse an old solution or pour the solution into a different bottle. If you do, then the solution is no longer be sterile.
One of the most common things contact lens wearers wrongly do is sleep with their lenses in. Even if you only do this occasionally, sleeping with contact lenses in can severely increase your risk of eye infections. This is because when your eyelids are closed, not as much oxygen is brought to your eyes as when they are open. Only some extended-wear lenses can be worn while you sleep.
Wearing Your Contact Lenses Safely
Your eye doctor may be able to give you advice on which type of contact lenses are best for you and which are safest. Generally, daily disposable contact lenses are the safest type. To wear contact lenses safely, follow these rules:
- Never wear somebody else’s contact lenses. If you do, then infections or particles can spread from that person’s eyes to your own.
- Protect your eyes in sunlight. Contact lenses can make your eyes more sensitive, so wear UV protection sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat when you are out in the sun.
- Keep your eyes moist. Your eye doctor recommends either a plain saline solution or a rewetting solution. Make sure you use it.
- Be careful of irritation. If you find your eyes are becoming irritated, then take out your contact lenses. Speak to your eye doctor before you use the lenses again, otherwise, you may end up with a nasty infection.
- See your doctor if you experience problems with your eyes. If you experience blurred vision, vision loss, eye pain, swelling, light flashes, irritation or unusual redness, then make sure you see your doctor right away.
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