Walk down the contact lens care aisle of most drugstores, and you’ll find a confusing selection of products. Though intimidating, it’s important to understand the essentials of contact lens care: caring for your contact lenses improperly can lead to eye irritation and infections, some of which can even cause blindness. The single best way to avoid eye irritation and infections is to follow proper lens care guidelines. Though recommended lens care can differ from individual to individual, here’s some basic tips for taking care of and preserving your contact lenses.
The Basics: Clean, Rinse, and Disinfect
While the type of lens you have determines how you care for it, those who wear disposable extended-wear and other types of soft lenses must clean, rinse, and disinfect their lenses on a daily basis. To avoid vision-threatening complications, carefully follow the contact lens manufacturer’s instructions for care. Here’s the proper way to clean, rinse, and disinfect most types of contact lenses.
- Before handling contact lenses, wash and rinse your hands.
- Carefully dry hands on a lint-free towel.
- Remove one lens and clean it with the recommended solution. The FDA recommends that you rub the lens in the palm of your hand with a few drops of solution.
- Rinse the lens to remove loosened debris.
- Place the lens in a clean case or lens holder filled with fresh solution.
- Repeat the steps for the other lens.
Although daily cleaning does remove some protein, it can still build up on lenses and make them become uncomfortable.Depending on what type of lenses you wear and how much protein your eyes accumulate, your doctor may recommend you use a daily protein remover. The liquid cleanser should be used daily, along with a multipurpose solution, during the disinfecting process. Before using the protein remover, clean and rinse your contacts. Then, place the lenses into the lens case, add a drop of daily protein remover, and disinfect your lenses as usual.
Contact Lens Safety
Each day, wear your contact lenses for as long as your eye care professional recommends, even if the length of time differs from the manufacturer’s recommendation. If you think you’ll have trouble remembering a replacement schedule, ask your eye care professional for a chart. If they don’t have one, consider making your own. Additionally, don’t sleep with your contact lenses in your eyes unless you’re wearing a type of contact lens that’s been approved by the FDA for overnight wear.
Don’t let the tip of the solution bottles touch other surfaces, including fingers and eyes. Anything the solution tip comes in contact with can contaminate the solution. Never wear contact lenses prescribed to another person, even if they’ve never been worn – your prescription may differ from theirs, and wearing the wrong prescription can cause permanent damage. If you develop eye irritation, remove the contacts. If the problem persists, make an appointment with your eye care professional.