About 45 million Americans use contact lenses to improve their vision, but with the remarkable convenience of frame-free vision correction comes the increased possibility of irritation and infection. Are you taking the right steps to protect your eyesight?
The Importance of Contact Lens Health
If you wear contact lenses, you have a greater likelihood of contracting infections courtesy of viruses, fungi, bacteria, and even parasites that may become trapped under the lens. Does it sound scary? It can be, but contact lenses don’t automatically spell doom—in fact, mastering contact lens safety can be as easy as learning and following a few standard precautions recommended by those in the know.
Cleaning and Storing Your Contact Lenses
All types of contact lenses benefit from the basic principles of contact lens hygiene:
- Always wash your hands before inserting or removing your contacts.
- Use a fresh, sterile solution when storing your contact lenses, rather than “topping up” what’s already in your lens case. Never use water, even if it’s bottled or filtered, or saliva.
- Clean extended-wear lenses according to manufacturer guidelines. Generally, this involves wetting the lenses with a disinfectant, rubbing them gently between your fingers, then rinsing with an approved solution.
- Never wear disposable lenses for longer than directed. If you’re a patient at Illinois Eye Center and need replacement lenses between your regularly scheduled appointments, you can order your contact lenses online.
- Don’t wear your contact lenses in the shower, when swimming (especially in a lake or ocean), or in a hot tub.
- Take your contact lenses out before bed. Studies show that people who wear their contact lenses while sleeping are up to 8 times more likelyto contract an eye infection.
- Replace your contact lens case at least every three months.
When to Call Your Doctor
Keeping your contact lenses clean can prevent many types of infections, but even the most diligent wearer occasionally runs into a problem. Immediately take out your contact lenses, and call your doctor if you experience any symptoms of an eye infection:
- Eye pain, itching, or burning
- Feeling like something is stuck in your eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Discharge from the eye
- Redness and/or swelling
- Blurry vision
To get fitted for contacts or to schedule a regular eye exam, call us at 309-243-2400, and make an appointment to see one of our vision experts.