Don’t cut corners on the care your lenses need
So many of us wear contact lenses—approximately 40 million people in the U.S.—but they’re generally so comfortable that we sometimes take them for granted. Did you know that the famous inventor Leonardo De Vinci drew the first plans for contact lenses all the way back in 1508? His drawings don’t look much like what we wear today, but they show just how long people have been looking for a way to improve eyesight without glasses.
There are many advantages to contact lenses, including a face free of glasses, relative safety and convenience during physical activity, the avoidance of fogged glasses when going from one extreme temperature to another (e.g., walking out of an air-conditioned building on a steamy summer day). Regardless of why you chose to wear contact lenses, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re a prescription-only substance that is regulated by the Food and Drug Association.
To maintain comfort and cleanliness and avoid infection, you must use and care for your contact lenses properly. Contact Lens Health Week recently came to an end, but it’s wise to carry forward the theme for this year: “Healthy Habits Mean Healthy Eyes.”
Below are ten tips to help you protect those peepers:
- See a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist for an updated contact lens prescription: It’s not legal for you to buy contact lenses without one.
- Replace contact lenses frequently: Regular replacement of contact lenses ensures that the quality of the lens remains uncompromised. Over time, the organic material in the lens begins to break down as it is exposed to the air and eye secretions.
- Remove contact lenses before you go to sleep: Take out all lenses, even “extended wear” lenses, when you go to bed, to reduce your risk of infection.
- Look out for dry eyes or other symptoms of “over-wear”: These can indicate a serious infection. If you experience burning, dryness, or blurred vision it could mean that you are wearing your contact lenses for too long a period. Untreated, these symptoms could lead to major corneal harm and infections.
- Go for regular eye exams: Visit your doctor at least once a year, or more as recommended by your eye care provider.
- Be prepared when traveling: A pair of glasses is a good emergency backup when you’re on the road, since you might not have time to replace lost or damaged lenses. Also, make sure to bring enough lens solution for the amount of time you’ll be traveling. (Water and saliva are not a suitable backup!)
- Keep water away from your lenses: Do not swim, shower, or use a hot tub when you are wearing your contact lenses. The water can introduce harmful germs to your eyes.
- Do not purchase cosmetic lenses from illegal vendors. Since they are unregulated, these products could be compromised—meaning they could contain material that is not safe for your eyes.
- Avoid topping off your lens solution: Always rinse out your lens case after each use and allow to dry. Don’t mix new and old solution in your case, since this exposes your eyes to any bacteria that could be growing there.
- Talk to your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms of an eye infection:
- Irritated, red eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye pain that does not improve when you remove the lenses
- Blurry vision
- Watery eyes or discharge
Good vision is part of good health, so do yourself a favor and follow these tips for healthy eyes! If you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.
This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, located in Manchester, NH. Visit us online to learn more, or reach out to schedule a campus tour!