Be careful when handling and storing your contact lenses

Be careful when handling and storing your contact lenses

Contact lenses may be indispensable for the visually impaired, but if not properly cleaned and stored, you run the risk of serious eye infections, experts say.

Up to one in 500 contact lens wearers develop such infections each year, which can sometimes lead to permanent blindness. Even minor infections caused by contamination are painful and disrupt daily life, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Whether contact lenses are worn to correct vision problems or just for special occasions, all contact lenses are considered medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and must be accompanied by a valid prescription, the academy said in a press release.

What types of eye problems can contact lenses cause?

  • scratches: These can be caused by contact lenses that are too old or don’t fit properly. They can also cause blood vessels to grow in your cornea, a high-risk condition that can damage your vision.
  • Dry eyes: This is a common symptom of contact lens wear, but using eye drops to fix it can damage your lenses, the academy warned. While you should avoid using eye drops, in that case you should use lubricating drops without preservatives or moisturizing drops.
  • allergies: Irritant particles can collect on your contact lenses and then come into contact with your eyes. If your vision becomes blurry or you see pus in your eye, these symptoms could indicate serious eye problems.

How can you avoid these problems?

  • Do not sleep with your contact lenses from the previous day in your eyes unless instructed to do so by your eye care professional. If you sleep with contacts in, the warm and wet environment is an easy place for bacteria to live and multiply, often causing an infection.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before handling your contact lenses. Drying your hands after washing is almost as important as washing them. This is because water can introduce germs into the eye if left on the lens during insertion.
  • Any contact lens you take out of your eye should be cleaned and sterilized before you put it back in. There are many different cleaning methods that depend on the type of contact lens you use, whether you have allergies, or other factors. Ask your eye doctor about the best way to clean your contact lenses.
  • Every time you take off your contact lenses, rub and rinse them with a contact lens disinfectant solution. And then empty and dry them.
  • Never use homemade saline, tap water, or saliva to clean your lenses.
  • Only use a new disinfectant solution for your contact lenses. Never mix a new solution with an old or used solution. And only use the specific cleaning solution recommended by your eye care professional.

Although more than 45 million Americans wear contact lenses, they are not right for everyone. You may not be able to wear them because you:

  • Have frequent eye infections
  • Do you have severe allergies or dry eyes that are difficult to treat?
  • Working or living where it is very dusty
  • Not being able to properly care for contact lenses

In general, your contact lenses should feel comfortable and allow you to see well. If not, inform your eye doctor and discuss other options, the academy says.

FDA approves contact lenses that darken the sun

More information:
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide more details about wearing and caring for contact lenses.

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