Contact Lens Hygiene
- Posted on: Jul 5 2011
Why is important to clean and care for my contact lenses? This question may seem like an easy one to answer but many contact lens wearers are guilty of misusing their lenses on a daily basis. In the past, most contacts were considered conventional wear lenses. This means that they were designed to be replaced annually. The cleaning solutions that were used involved varying amounts of time devoted to rubbing the lenses to remove deposits and sometimes even adding a separate enzyme regimen to improve wear time.
It is more common today for contact lenses to be more disposable, throwing the lenses away at 2 week, monthly or even daily intervals. Because disposable contacts are so popular, it is also more common that patients extend their approved wearing time for the lenses. It is not uncommon when I ask a patient how often they dispose of their contacts for the response to be “when I feel like I need to” or “when the contact starts to bother me.” I always try to spend extra time discussing the importance of regular replacement schedules. If you wait until you feel that something is wrong with your eye or your lens before you dispose of the contact, something may be legitimately wrong with your cornea.
Because a contact lens goes directly into the eye, there is an increased risk for ocular infection with lens wearers. Dirt and irritants from the environment, oils and residue from your skin and bacteria from your eyelashes are just a few of the contaminants that come into contact daily with your eyes. Although this is not common, infections that arise from unclean contacts and dirty storage cases can be very serious and sight threatening. Using a multipurpose solution to daily clean your contact lenses is very important. It is also important to always use brand new solution each day and dispose of your contact lens case every three months. The most hygienic form of contact lens wear is a daily disposable lens. No cleaning is necessary because the lenses are disposed of on a daily basis.
If your eyes become red, irritated, sensitive to light, a discharge is present or if your vision changes, you should see your doctor. Especially with contact lens related infections, early detection could lead to treatment that prevents significant visual problems.
If taken care of properly, contacts can be a great alternative to glasses. Most patients never have any problems with their lenses but it is important to understand why it is so important to practice good contact lens hygiene every single day.
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