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The use of contact lenses is popular due to the ease and convenience they provide. However, you can make various mistakes while handling them, which can hurt your eyes. Therefore, it is vital to use them with caution, care, and hygiene.
Eye Problems Related to Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are potentially dangerous when not handled properly. The common problems include:
Abnormal blood vessels develop in the cornea due to oxygen deprivation. Normally, the cornea, which is the clear outer layer of the eye that helps focus light, is devoid of blood vessels.
The contact lenses rest against the cornea and therefore, prolonged use can cause a lack of oxygen. Such chronic oxygen deprivation can also lead to swelling, pain, halos, glare, and light sensitivity.
2. Infectious keratitis
Microbial infection in the cornea can cause inflammation and redness. Regular use of contact lenses can cause micro-abrasion on the eye surface, increasing the risk of such infections. (1)
Also, prolonged use of contacts, improper disinfection, and wearing contacts while swimming can predispose you to infectious keratitis. (1)
Common Mistakes While Using Contact Lenses
Your eyes are extremely delicate and have to be handled with the utmost care. It is especially true when you are inserting a foreign object like contact lenses inside your eyes.
Here are a few mistakes that people make while using contact lenses which can damage your eyes:
- Prolonged use
- Sleeping with contacts
- Using them in water
- Cleaning contacts with tap water
- Using expired contact lenses
- Handling contacts without washing hands
- Not drying the washed hands before touching the lenses, as water harbors various infectious microbes that can enter the eye through the lens
- Using contacts even if the eyes hurt
- Not maintaining hygiene of the storage cases or lenses
- Mixing old and fresh contact solutions
- Not going for regular eye check-ups
- Using a disposable lens longer than recommended (2)
- Not replacing the storage case in due time
- Sleeping while wearing contact lenses
Take Out Your Lenses Before Going in Water
It is highly advised to refrain from using contact lenses while swimming or bathing.
Since water comes in contact with the eyes, the germs can get trapped inside the contact lenses over the cornea, thus increasing the chances of an infection. Therefore, it is best to remove your contacts before showering or entering a swimming pool.
Remove Contact Lenses Before Sleeping
It is best to avoid wearing contacts while sleeping as it can increase the risk of infection by six to eight times. (3)
However, if you have been prescribed special contact lenses that can be used even while sleeping, you can sleep with your contact lenses upon consulting your eye care provider.
Nevertheless, it is still advisable to remove your contacts before sleeping to give your eyes a much-needed rest.
Best Way to Clean Contact Lenses
Only contact lens disinfecting solutions should be used to clean contact lenses, and not tap water which is contaminated with various germs and dirt.
Rub and rinse the lenses with fresh contact lens disinfecting solution every time before and after using them. Avoid mixing a fresh solution with an old or used solution present in the case.
The Importance of Cleaning the Contact Lens Case
It is crucial to maintain hygiene while using contact lenses to prevent infection and pain due to any foreign material that may be present on the lens. It is equally essential to maintain the hygiene of the contact lens case for the same reasons.
Use a contact lens disinfecting solution to rub and rinse your case, empty it, and place it on a clean tissue upside down to dry every time you put in your contact lenses.
Refill the case with fresh contact lens solution for storing your lenses after use. Replace the case with a fresh one every 3 months. (4)
Don’t Use Expired Contact Lenses
The expiration date on contact lenses is indicative of the time up to which they are free of contamination and safe for use. Therefore, to minimize the chances of infection or other problems, you should not use expired contact lenses.
When Should You Not Use Contact Lenses?
Refrain from using contact lenses in the following situations:
Applying Makeup While Wearing Contact Lenses
It is quite safe to wear makeup while using contact lenses as long as you take precautionary measures to prevent contamination.
Make sure to insert your lenses before applying any makeup or creams to prevent any residual components from transferring to your lenses and eventually to the eyes. Also, be careful when applying makeup around the eye to prevent the entry of chemicals.
Are Contact Lenses Better Than Eye Glasses?
Contact lenses are generally a safe and effective way to correct your vision. They may be more convenient than glasses as they do not obstruct vision in case of rain or steam, and they do not fall out easily.
However, they may not be comfortable for everyone. Moreover, it is vital to consult your eye care provider before using contact lenses and for the necessary hygiene measures.
While extremely rare, contact lens-related injuries and infections can cause severe problems. The infections can cause pain, interfere with your daily activities, and even lead to blindness in severe cases.
However, these problems can be easily prevented by following proper hygiene and care measures while using contact lenses.