Many contact wearers would probably say they have pretty good contact lens care habits. However, while more than 80 percent of Americans believe they follow good lens care practices, only 2 percent actually do.(1)
It’s a rare in most cases, but the proof is in the cornea, so it seems. Contact lenses are among the safest forms of visual correction, but if not used as directed, there can be serious consequences. Let’s Cover a few quick points. Make sure to ask your eye care professional or Dr. Groetken when you are in for your appointment if you have any questions.
1) Clean Hands–The cleanest, daily disposable lenses, are all for naught, if wearers do not wash their hands before handling their lenses. Dr. Groetken has seen patients with daily disposable lenses who persistently are treated for eye infections such as corneal infiltrative events (CIEs), for this one simple and easy to correct reason.
2) Dry Hands–The flip side of the coin: Although most patients do think to wash their hands, sometimes they forget to dry their hands before handling contact lenses. Water can harbor harmful microorganisms that can be transferred onto the lens and subsequently onto the eye if wearers fail to dry their hands with a clean surface.
3) Sleeping in Contacts–People sleeping in contact lenses that are not designed to be slept in are at a five times higher risk of developing CIEs, according to some studies. Even extended wear lenses carry some risk of infection as compared to daily wear lenses.
4) Proper Solution–Not all contact lens care systems are created equal, in terms of disinfection, and chemical sensitivities and incompatibilities with lens materials. Patients might opt for a cheaper, generic solution as opposed to the care system specifically designed for their lenses. Some are overwhelmed by the choices, and choose saline, which does not clean or disinfect. Some people do not tolerate name brand multi-purpose solutions, so they may be switched to alternative solutions. Working closely with your optometrist to find the right solution may be necessary if you have a reaction such as red eyes, foreign body sensation, and possibly a sensitivity reaction including CEI’s.
5) Old Solution–Reusing old solution or adding fresh solution to the old solution that is in your existing case diminishes the disinfecting properties of the fresh solution.2 Lens cases can be a source of microbial contamination. Be sure to follow your eye care professional’s directions and product instructions for replacing your case to help avoid buildup of bacteria and residue.
Days, months, years – no matter how long you have been wearing contact lenses, there is a good chance you have heard that there are ways to “bend some of the rules” of contact lens care to save time or money – or both. However, doing so can put your eyes at risk. An eye infection can cost $155-$500+ for follow up visits and medication to treat the infection. Contact lenses require a prescription to ensure that the contacts that you are prescribed are right for your eyes. Be sure to have your eyes and contacts checked yearly, and more often if they are not comfortable, you have red eyes, or decreased vision.
Call or come in with any questions.
1. Optometry and Vision Science. Non-Compliance with Contact Lens Wear and Care Practices: A Comparative Analysis.http://journals.lww.com/optvissci/Fulltext/2011/12000/Non_Compliance_with_Contact_Lens_Wear_and_Care.5.aspx. Accessed April 3, 2013.
2. American Academy of Ophthalmology Get EyeSmart Campaign. Medical Myth Exposed. http://ooss.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Contact_Lens_Myth_Mar2009.pdf. Accessed April 4, 2013.