I got my first pair of contacts when I was 11 years old. I cannot even explain the freedom I felt from being stuck with classes every waking moment. Do you know how hard it is to play basketball with glasses? Looking out the corner of your eye doesn’t work too well when there isn’t something there to help you actually see. Not only did I not have to worry about losing or breaking them, but I could see better as well! I was so excited to be ‘grown’ enough to have the responsibility of wearing contacts. One of the first things my Mom did was teach me about contact safety and health; so when my daughter got her first pair of contacts last year, that’s the first thing we went over. You’re eyesight isn’t something to play games with.
The American Optometric Association estimates that nearly 41 million adults in the U.S. (more than one in ten people) and 125 million people worldwide wear contact lenses. Contact lens wearers should have comprehensive eye exams annually and stay in close contact with their eye doctor to ensure appropriate and up-to-date clinical guidance based on individual eye health needs – and should follow some of these simple rules to stay ‘eye healthy.’
Anytime you are touching your eye you are risking germs and infections – so as a contact wearer, you have to be even more careful since you were literally touching you’re eyeball multiple times a day.
With that being said, the first thing you should always do is wash your hands. Before you take them out, put them in, or even apply re-wetting drops, wash your hands! All it takes is a tiny bit of bacteria that you got on your hand from that door knob, the money you touched or even your cell phone, and you could get a horrible infection (or worse). If you don’t have a sink available, you can use liquid hand sanitizer though I wouldn’t recommend touching your eyeball for at least a few minutes afterwards.
Secondly, always clean, sanitize and store your contacts the way your doctor recommended. I cannot emphasize this enough. Even if you have disposable 24/7 contacts, giving your eyes a rest is recommended. Making sure you have the proper storage case and solution on hand is important as well. When I was about 16 I had spent the night with a friend on a whim. Since I had planned ahead I didn’t have my contact solution or case with me and by the early morning hours my eyes were super dry. My friend’s sister offered her extra case and solution for me to use to give my eyes a rest for awhile. Because I have horrid vision (I cannot see without glasses or contacts) I let the contacts sit in the solution for only about an hour. When I went to put my contacts back in I felt a burn in my eye, and had to immediately take it out; it continued to burn with no relief. Even the next day it continued to burn so my Mom took me to an eye doctor who than referred me to a specialist. Come to find out my friend’s sister had ‘hard’ contacts (I wore soft) and that solution was meant to deep clean and should be in that particular solution for a certain amount of time – and never to be used with soft contacts. I had a chemical burn on my eye, and have suffered with a lay eye ever since. I learned my lesson and you will never find me without a contact case and travel bottle of solution (along with my glasses) in my purse. I even carry extra in my car for emergencies. So with that being said – be careful! It’s completely not worth it to mess with your eyes and vision!
To elaborate on the prior tip, also be sure whenever possible to not sleep in your contacts.
Sleeping in contact lenses increased your risk of developing corneal infection or inflammation by up to 5 times!!
Never re-use old solution. I have to admit I’ve been guilty of this when I’m in a hurry it’s late at night, and I’ve left solution in my case from that morning. Not a good idea. Your contacts essentially disinfected in that solution over night, so where do you think all the germs are? Multi-purpose solution isn’t that expensive, and completely worth using fresh solution each time.
Though most of us wear contacts to improve our vision, there is quite a large number of people who use them for cosmetic reasons – to change their eye color, or shape, to give different effects for Halloween costumes, etc. Optometrists are concerned about the illegal sale and use of these types of contacts; even though they are non-corrective and used for entertainment purposes only they are still considered a medical device and pose the same safety and health risks. A lot of times these types are contacts are purchased illegally, through street vendors, flea markets or beauty supply stores which in return wouldn’t be
set to the same quality and safety standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is a major concern for optometrists. If you are someone you know uses decorative contacts for the Halloween (or any other) season be sure that they keep on a look out for symptoms such as blurred or fuzzy vision; red or irritated eyes; pain in or around the eyes. A more serious condition can arise as well, which is where the cornea becomes inflamed and these problems can lead to significant eye damage causing the eye not to function correctly or even cause irreversible sight loss.
So please – Practice Safe Contact Lenses Use! To learn more visit the AOA
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.