Eye infections can cause itching, redness, and even temporary or permanent vision loss. While anyone can develop an eye infection, contact lens wearers are at an increased risk since they touch their eyes more and regularly introduce foreign objects to their eyes. Thankfully, by being proactive and following the tips below, you can avoid eye infections as a contact lens wearer.
1. Wash Your Hands
Your hands are riddled with bacteria. Although this bacteria may not cause any issues on your skin, it could cause an infection if introduced to your eyes. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before inserting, removing, or otherwise handling your contact lenses.
2. Keep Your Contact Case Clean
A clean contact case protects your lenses from bacteria and other contaminants. A dirty case, on the other hand, is the perfect moist spot for bacteria to replicate. Check your contact case package to see how often the manufacturers recommend disinfecting it. Never use tap water to wash your case, as tap water may contain bacteria and fungi that could cause an infection. Instead, use contact lens solution and a clean wiping cloth.
3. Use New Solution Each Night
After you remove your contact lenses each night, store them in a case filled with fresh contact solution. Never re-use the solution or top off the solution already in the container. Make sure that you add enough solution to fully cover each lens.
Similarly, you should never store your contacts in plain water, even if just for a night. Keep a spare bottle of contact solution on hand so that you never run out.
4. Remove Your Contacts Before Swimming
Many contact lens wearers assume that their eye doctors recommend removing their contacts before swimming for comfort reasons. But getting pool water in your eye when you're wearing contacts can cause more than discomfort. Any bacteria in the pool water can get trapped behind the lens, where it can replicate and cause an infection. Chlorinated pool water may also dry out your eye and contact, making infection more likely.
5. Don't Share Contacts
If you forget your contacts or run out of lenses, you may be tempted to borrow some from a friend. This is a very bad idea. If your friend's lenses do not fit you properly, they may rub and irritate your eyes, leading to a corneal abrasion. Damaged, abraded corneas are at an increased risk for infection. In addition, your friend's contacts may not be clean and free from infectious bacteria.
Note that this applies to vanity lenses as well as lenses used for visual purpose. As much as you may want to try on your friend's bright blue or tiger-striped contacts, you will need to get your own, custom-fitted pair to try these styles safely.
6. Clean Dropped Lenses Properly
Infectious bacteria are found on almost every surface, from the bathroom floor to your sofa. So if you drop a contact lens anywhere at all, you must clean it thoroughly before putting it back in your eye. Rinse it with contact solution, not water. Visually inspect it to ensure that it does not have any grit, grime, or debris on its surface.
If the surface is notably dirty or the lens is not perfectly clean, you're best off just discarding the dropped lens and starting over with a new, clean one. Carry your glasses, contact solution, and case with you so that if you drop a lens while out and about, you can handle the situation safely.
By following the safety recommendations above, you can lower your risk of eye infections as a contact lens wearer. If you are a glasses wearer who would like to try contacts, do not let the risk of infection deter you. Contact St. Pierre Eye Care today. We will evaluate your eyes to ensure you're able to wear contacts safely.