Why Does Contact Lens Cleanliness Matter?

Contact lenses are almost like magic! After putting your prescribed contacts in, you may see everything around you with the exactitude of a hawk. Yes, contacts are amazing, but like all medical treatments and corrections, contact lenses will require care to keep them and your vision in good working shape. Here are tips about the proper care of your contacts.

Why does contact cleanliness matter?

When things go awry with contact lenses, it’s typically a result of poor hygiene. Your eyes provide an access point for bacteria to enter your body, but natural preventive measures like tears, mucus and blinking help reduce the risk. When a foreign object is placed over the surface of the eye—like a contact lens—these natural processes are not as effective.

This is because the space between your eye and the contact lens is ideal for certain types of bacteria to grow more easily. For example, contact wearers are far more prone to microbial keratitis than non-wearers. Bacterial infections are not always severe but can be very painful and even cause blindness in rare cases. Adopting the following behaviors will ensure your contacts are consistently clean, greatly reducing your chances of infection.

Contact Lens Hygiene and Care

  1. Always wash your handswith soap and warm water before handling your contacts in any way (including when you take them out). Always dry your hands with a clean towel.
  2. Never sleep with your contacts in, unless given direct permission from your eye doctor.
  3. Avoid exposing your lenses to water. Take them out before swimming in lakes, pools, and hot tubs. Contacts stay hydrated, remaining pliable, by absorbing water, including whatever’s in that water. Showering with them can also introduce foreign bacteria.

How do I keep my contacts clean?

  1. Your Contacts—Clean your contact lenses with disinfecting solution every time you remove them. Never clean or store your contacts in water. Replace them with the frequency directed by your eye doctor.
  2. Your Case—Always rub and rinse your contact lens case with solution after each use. Never use water, and only dry with a clean tissue. Store upside down with the caps off and replace your case every three months. If not properly cared for, your case can become a nice home for bacteria.
  3. Your Solution—Only disinfect your contact lenses and case with solution approved by your eye doctor. Always use fresh solution in your case. “Topping off” old solution can support poor hygiene.

Don’t Get Complacent About Contact Lens Care

Sometimes it can be easy to get complacent. It’s understandable. The extra time each day to be thorough with your lenses can be a mild nuisance; especially if you’ve never had any trouble with infections previously. Just remember, these are the only set of eyes you have, and it’s better to not take any chances on them. Get into a routine with your contacts, live by the ritual of keeping them clean to enjoy crisp vision.

Oh, and one last tip. Contact lens wearers sometimes run into situations where they need to remove their contact. Keep your vision clear by carrying a backup pair of prescription glasses for these situations.

If you’re uncertain about caring for your contacts or are experiencing any discomfort when you wear contacts, use your VSP Individual Vision Plan to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor today. If you don’t have vision insurance, find out how VSP can help you save on your next eye exam or pair of contact lenses.

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