Contact lenses are a generally more convenient alternative to bulky eyeglasses, but they can pose serious problems if used or handled incorrectly.
Here are some of the most common contact lens mistakes that could end up hurting your eyes, plus tips for avoiding them.
1. Handling contact lenses with unwashed hands
Dirt, germs, and even the oils from your skin can get onto your contact lenses if you touch them without washing your hands. Those contaminants can not only hurt your eyes but also increase your risk of eye infection.
Therefore, you should always wash your hands with soap and water before handling your contact lenses or touching your eyes. Use a mild, antibacterial soap where possible, and dry your hands with a lint-free towel. Avoid oil or lotion-based soaps.
2. Forgetting to clean contact lenses
Proteins, lipids, and other microscopic deposits can accumulate on the surface of your contact lenses if you do not properly clean them. Those deposits can irritate your eyes and make your contact lenses feel less comfortable than when they were new.
To avoid deposit buildup on your contact lenses, clean and disinfect them after each use with fresh contact lens cleaning solution.
Additionally, you should clean your contact lens case daily to ensure it is free of contaminants. Rinse it with fresh contact lens cleaning solution and allow it to air dry upside down until you are ready to store your contact lenses again.
3. Not replacing contact lenses on time
Don’t try to stretch out your contact lenses longer than your eye doctor recommends. If you do, you may be increasing your risk of eye irritation, eye infection, and other contact lens-related complications.
4. Sleeping in lenses intended for daily wear only
Avoid wearing your contact lenses to bed unless they are specifically designed for overnight or extended wear and your eye doctor has approved you to sleep in your contact lenses.
For many people, wearing contact lenses overnight increases their risk of contact lens-related complications and eye problems, including loss of vision.
5. Re-using contact lens solution
Just because the solution left in your contact lens case looks clean, doesn’t mean it is. It could already be harboring bacteria that can put you at risk for eye infection. Old lens solution will also not properly disinfect your contact lenses.
Always use fresh contact lens solution when you clean and store your contact lenses.
6. Skipping eye exams
Contact lens prescriptions are generally only good for one to two years. So even if you feel like your contacts are still working for you, you should see your eye doctor for an eye exam.
During an eye exam, your eye doctor will not only assess your vision and need for an updated prescription but also check for signs of eye problems, especially progressive ones like presbyopia and age-related macular degeneration.
7. Re-wetting contact lenses with water
In a pinch, you may have tried to re-wet your contact lenses with tap water. This is a big mistake as tap water contains chemical and microbiological contaminants that could cause a severe eye infection.
So you don’t find yourself in a bind, carry a small bottle of contact lens rewetting drops with you. Note: contact lens rewetting drops are not the same as artificial tears, which are only intended to lubricate dry eyes.
8. Using powder-based makeup
Fallout is extremely common with powder-based products like eyeshadows, and it can be irritating to contact lens wearers.
Use liquid- or cream-based products instead as these have little to no fallout.
9. Swimming or taking a shower with contact lenses
Water, whether from the tap or in the ocean, contains bacteria and contaminants. Contact lenses can trap those contaminants against your eyes, making you more prone to getting an eye infection.
Always remove your contact lenses before swimming, taking a bath, or hopping in the shower to avoid eye problems.
10. Wearing contact lenses while sick
Contracting an illness can disrupt tear production. Without enough tears, your eyes can become dehydrated, your cornea may swell, and you may even develop infections like pink eye.
These symptoms can also make it hard to insert contacts. Even if you manage to get them in, your eyes are at risk of getting scratched due to the lack of a protective barrier between the lens and your eye, i.e., your tears.
If you feel sick, it’s best to give your eyes a break from contact lenses. Alternatively, you could switch to eyeglasses until you feel better.
Contact lenses can present serious problems if used and handled improperly. Be sure to avoid these common mistakes to keep your eyes healthy and minimize your risk of contact lens-related complications.