Proper lens care is crucial if you wear contact lenses—after all, you likely wear your contact lenses for the vast majority of your day. As such, you need to know how to correctly apply, remove, clean, and store your contact lenses.
Lens.com is here to help with contact lens care tips and advice.
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about contact lens care and safety—from the different kinds of contact lenses to the proper way to put in your contact lenses to bad contact lens practices you need to avoid at all costs.
Types and sub-types of contact lenses
To be able to take better care of your eyes as well as your contact lenses, it’s important that you understand the different types of contact lenses and what separates them from each other.
There are two main types of contact lenses available in the market today, namely:
- Daily disposable contact lenses
These contact lenses are designed to be used once and then discarded. When using daily disposable contact lenses, you wear a brand new pair of lenses each day.
Daily disposable contact lenses are also meant to be worn only when awake. They are not FDA-approved for wear during sleep.
- One to two week daily wear contact lenses
These contact lenses are designed to be used for one to two weeks (depending on the contact lenses) and then disposed of. They are only meant to be worn during the day and must be taken out before sleeping.
- Soft contact lenses
These are made of flexible plastic materials. The plastic used in soft contact lenses is breathable so that oxygen can easily pass through to the cornea of the eye. Soft contact lenses generally have a frequent replacement schedule such as bi-weekly (14 days) or monthly (30 days).
- Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses
These products are more durable compared to soft contact lenses. They are also better than soft contact lenses in terms of resisting buildups. Some people enjoy improved visual acuity with RGP lenses. As their name suggests, they are harder than soft contact lenses, making them much more resistant to tearing. They also last longer than soft contact lenses.
These two types of contact lenses are further divided into several subtypes, which include the following:
- Extended or continuous wear contact lenses
These lenses are FDA-approved to be worn continuously from anywhere between one night to 30 days. They can either be soft contact lenses or rigid gas permeable contact lenses.
- Orthokeratology contact lenses
These are specially designed RGP contact lenses used for orthokeratology, which is a lens fitting procedure that temporarily changes the curvature of the cornea in order to reduce nearsightedness.
Basic contact lens care
Whether you’re new to contact lenses or have been wearing them for a long time, here are basic steps you need to follow in order to properly care for both your eyes and your contact lenses.
- First things first
Wash your hands with mild soap and water and use a lint-free towel to dry your hands before touching your contact lenses. If you want to apply lotion or moisturizer on your hands, do it only after you’ve put on your contact lenses. This is because residue from lotions or moisturizers can easily stick to your lenses, which can hurt your eyes and affect your vision.
Whenever you start your lens care process, make sure you start with the same eye each time. This way, you never mix up your right lens with your left lens and vice versa.
- Putting on your contact lenses
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to put on your contact lenses.
- With your index finger, slide the lens out of its case and into the palm of your hand.
- Rinse the lens with the solution prescribed to you by your eye care professional.
- Carefully place the lens on the tip of your index finger. Make sure that your index finger is dry so that the lens doesn’t stick.
- Pull your lower eyelid using the middle finger of the same hand and then use the fingers of your other hand to hold your upper eyelid.
- Put the lens on the iris of your eye. The lens should be directly on top of the iris.
- Slowly release your eyelids.
- Blink a few times.
- Taking out your contact lenses
Proper removal of your contact lenses is every bit as essential as proper application. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to remove your contact lenses.
- Wash your hands with mild soap and water and then use a lint-free towel to dry them.
- With the index finger of one hand, pull down your lower eyelid.
- Look either up or to the side.
- With the index finger of your other hand, slowly move the lens to the white (sclera) of the eye.
- Use the thumb and index finger to pinch gently pinch the lens and remove it from your eye. Be careful not to use your nails when pinching your lens. As an alternative, you can use a small device called a “plunger” to remove lenses directly from your eyes. Just make sure that the device touches only the surface of the contact lens and not your eye. Your eye doctor can provide you with one of these plungers.
- Cleaning and storing your contact lenses
There are several types of contact lens solutions available as well as many ways to clean your contact lenses. It all depends on the type of contact lens you’re wearing.
Here are a few things you need to remember when cleaning and storing your contact lenses.
- The FDA recommends that you rub your lens in the palm of your hand with a few drops of contact lens solution.
- Rinse the lens to remove any debris.
- Place the lens in its lens holder that is filled with fresh contact lens solution.
- Never touch the tip of the nozzle of your contact lens solution container or allow it to come in contact with a surface other than the container’s cap. Doing so can have a negative effect on the solution.
- Use only the contact lens solution that was prescribed to you by your eye doctor.
- When cleaning and storing your contact lenses, follow your eye doctor’s instructions to the letter and never deviate.
Once you’re done with one eye, repeat the steps outlined in numbers 2, 3, and 4 with your other eye.
While a daily contact lens cleaning regimen does remove protein, it can still build up on contact lenses and make them uncomfortable to wear.
Depending on the type of contact lenses you wear and how much protein accumulates in your eyes, your eye care professional may recommend that you use a protein remover. However, disposing of your contact lenses immediately after their recommended wearing schedule eliminates the need for this step. Overwearing contact lenses, or wearing them for longer than their wearing schedule, (three weeks instead of the recommended two weeks) is what leads to protein buildup. This typically leads to increased eye irritation.
Contact lens safety
Now that you’re familiar with the basics of contact lens care, it’s the perfect time to get more information on contact lens safety. Keeping the following advice in mind will enable you to not only maximize your use of your contact lenses, but it will prevent you from experiencing most problems with your eyes and vision.
- Wear your contact lenses only for as long as your eye care professional recommends, even if their recommendation differs from the manufacturer’s.
- Clean your contact lens case the same way you clean your lenses. Rinse the case with disinfecting solution every night and let it air dry. Furthermore, replace your contact lens case every three months.
- Take out your contact lenses if they feel uncomfortable. Try rinsing them with re-wetting drops or a non-peroxide solution to remove any debris. If you wear them again and they still feel uncomfortable, you might want to visit an eye care professional. Never run them under tap water or ‘lick’ them to clean them. Doing so can lead to serious eye infections.
- Even if you wear contact lenses on a daily basis, it’s ideal to have an up-to-date pair of prescription eyeglasses handy. This way, you can easily switch to wearing your eyeglasses whenever the need arises. Carrying your lens case and some multi-purpose solution is also ideal.
- Even UV-blocking contact lenses won’t protect your entire eye from UV light. This is because contact lenses only cover the corneas of your eyes. To protect your eyes from UV light, you need to wear sunglasses whenever you’re outside while driving or engaging in other outdoor activities.
- Put in your soft contact lenses before you apply makeup and take out your soft contact lenses before you take off your makeup.
- Never sleep in contact lenses that aren’t FDA-approved for extended wear.
- Never attempt to rinse your contact lenses in tap water or your own saliva. Both tap water and saliva contain bacteria that can latch on to your contact lenses and cause eye infections.
- Never wear your contact lenses when swimming. Bacteria in the water can attach to your contact lenses and cause eye infections.
- Never wear contact lenses prescribed for another person–even if they’ve never been worn. Your prescription may differ from theirs, and wearing the wrong prescription can cause permanent damage.
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Announcement: COVID-19, eye care, and online eye exams.
It’s undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on healthcare across the globe.
In a statement updated on March 24, 2020, the American Optometric Association (AOA) advised all eye care professionals to postpone all routine eye care visits. The advice comes under the guidance of the CDC who urged that all elective and non-urgent visits and admissions—including eye care visits—be delayed.
This has caused a shift in the US eye care industry.
In an effort to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and attend to eye care patients across the US, Lens.com has set up an online vision test. Feel free to contact us for more information if you are interested in taking the online vision test.
Since the pandemic has forced US eye care professionals to close their clinics indefinitely, a number of them have started seeing their patients through virtual visits for things like routine eye exams. This helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Furthermore, virtual visits ensure that eye care professionals are still able to provide their patients with sufficient care. Through video conferencing on computers or smartphones, eye care professionals can attend to their patients in real-time.
There are two types of contact lenses available today: 1) soft contact lenses, and 2) rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses. These two types are then divided into subcategories that include daily-wear contact lenses and extended wear contact lenses.
Whatever type of contact lens you’re using, remember that contact lens care and safety are necessary. Whether you’re a new or experienced wearer of contact lenses, the advice outlined in this blog post will allow you to maintain the quality of your contact lens-wearing experience. In addition, it will help you ensure that your eyes are healthy, especially during this time when the COVID-19 pandemic is causing serious problems for the healthcare industry and its patients.
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