Contact lenses have been an amazing innovation for those with vision issues. However, your contact wearing experience will only be as good as the care you give them.
Giving the illusion of 20/20 vision and being convenient to use, it’s little wonder they are worn by a huge slice of the population on a daily basis. And, with the addition of coloured contacts to the lineup, we have a fun way to enhance our appearance too!
In this guide, we look at how to keep your contact lenses safe and hygienic, whether you wear them for aesthetics or necessity. With just a little extra care, you can keep your eyes safe and enjoy wearing contacts.
Play nice with your lenses
Did you know that anything from 40% to an outrageous 90% of contact wearers don’t follow the basic care instructions for their lenses?
It’s easy to dismiss them as too much effort, but poorly fitted and dirty contact lenses can introduce infection-causing bacteria to the eye and even damage your eyeball itself. So it’s critical you play nice with your lenses to keep your eyes bright and healthy.
Choose the right fit
Prescription-wearers will typically already be using an optometrist to ensure a good fit with their lenses, but it’s easy to dismiss the necessity of a proper fit when it comes to fashion or colour contacts.
You couldn’t be more wrong! A contact lens that’s a bad fit on the eye can introduce pressure to your eyeball, deforming it with time.
Additionally, areas that pinch or sit poorly can slowly abrade the eye, leaving it sore and damaged. Toric lenses, used for people with astigmatism, can be particularly tricky to fit.
Rather than rush through this part of the process, take the time to find a brand that’s a great match for you. And if you’re using a script, get it updated regularly.
And it goes without saying – avoid the lure of cheap lenses! Look for trusted colour contact brands with impeccable quality control, so you always know what you’re getting.
Be honest about your habits
Contact lenses come in various usages – daily contacts, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly are the most common.
It’s important not to reuse them past those guidelines, as the lens itself will begin to damage and deform, bringing all those problems you avoided by having them fitted correctly back to the table.
Be realistic about what fits your lifestyle. If your hygiene practices lack a bit, disposable dailies are a better choice than weekly or monthly.
Follow the rules
Yup, the rules are there for a reason! Your eye-care provider, or the manufacturer, will have provided guidelines on the replacement schedule we just recommended, as well as how long they can be worn safely and comfortably each day.
Leaving lenses in too long makes them tougher to remove as your eyes dry later in the day and can cause irritation or in extreme cases corneal ulcers.
Cleanliness is key
The eye is a sensitive mucous membrane, and that means bacteria can take hold frighteningly fast. So, you have to be vigilant in keeping your lenses clean.
Never insert, remove, or adjust the lens without thoroughly cleaning your hands with soap and water and then drying them completely. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are a big NO for this.
For longer-wear lenses (i.e. anything other than dailies), use an optometrist-approved cleaning and storage system, and be vigilant, too. Don’t reuse storage solutions, and always replace it with a fresh solution.
Clean out your storage case often. You can rinse them with a little of the multi-purpose solution daily, but give them a good clean once a week, too.
Lastly, never let water come in contact with your lenses. Water can cause the molecules of the lens to ‘swell’, reducing its lifespan and deforming the shape.
Wearing contact lenses is convenient and can be attractive, but they do reduce the spread of natural tears over your eye. So it’s important you don’t let the eye surface dry out. Not only does it make for an itchy, uncomfortable experience, it can leave you more at risk of damage and infection.
If you need a little help, consider using contact lens-compatible lubrication drops (often called tears in a bottle) to give your eye a little boost and soothe dryness.
Remember that staring at screens often causes us to blink less, too. If you have issues removing lenses, a quick hydrating drop can make the process easier.
Also, take a day in the week when you don’t wear your lenses. While contact lenses are oxygen-permeable, they do reduce the flow of oxygen to the eye. Giving your eyes a day to rest and recover will help them stay comfortable for longer.