Give your eyes their daily shower: Proper contact lens care

Contact lenses can be a real godsend. You carefully rinse the lenses with solution, place them gently in each eye, and after one tiny moment of discomfort … almost like magic you can see everything with the exactitude of a hawk. Yes, modern optometry is amazing, but like all medical treatments and corrections, contact lenses are not 100% risk-free. You needn’t worry though; the steps for proper care of your contacts are very simple.

Why contact cleanliness matters

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.

Your personal hygiene translates to lens hygiene

  1. Always wash your hands with 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.
  1. Never sleep with your contacts in, unless given direct permission from your eye doctor.
  1. 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.

Keeping the contacts themselves 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Staying committed to the cause

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 and enjoy a lifetime of crisp, flawless vision.

Oh, and one last tip. Contact lenses are not perfect. Always carry a backup pair of prescription glasses just in case.

If you’re uncertain about your contacts or are experiencing any discomfort, then use your VSP Individual 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.