Surprising Ways To Keep Your Contact-Lens-Wearing Eyes Healthy
I’ve worn glasses since elementary school. I remember trying to read the chalkboard from the back of the class and squinting to make everything a little less fuzzy. Glasses in the late 80s, by the way, were not very fashionable. The round glasses I had most definitely didn’t fit my round face, and that fashion disaster was very apparent when I entered middle school. I felt out of place, and my self-esteem (that was already shot, because: middle school), was getting dragged down even more; people teased me because of my “four eyes.” (Seriously, don’t you wish we could have just skipped those awful middle-school years?)
When I was in the seventh grade, I asked my mom about maybe possibly getting contacts. She recently got them, and I was insanely jealous. I remember visiting the optometrist really clearly, because I was terrified at putting something in my eye. Those first few times when I had to get them in myself was a gigantic struggle, but I finally figured out a system that works for me. (By the way, I have to lift my eyebrows and open my mouth really wide to get those suckers in. I look ridiculous, but that’s the only way I can get them to work.)
I used to wear my contacts religiously, every day actually, but lately I favor my glasses and I save my contacts for special occasions, or when I know I’ll be in the sun a lot and want to wear sunglasses. In fact, at my latest optometry visit I expressed my concern about not wearing them all that often, and my awesome optometrist suggested I switch to dailies. I took his advice, and now I’m hooked. I don’t have to store them over night or clean them; I simply open a new pack when I’m ready I pop them in, and when I’m done at the end of the day I just toss them. I’m so happy he worked with me and found something that works with my current lifestyle.
Since I’ve been wearing contacts for almost two decades, I’d like to share some easy ways to keep your eyes healthy (and some of them may surprise you).
1. Wash Your Hands!
Okay, this one isn’t too surprising, but it’s essential to wash and dry your hands before getting your fingertips on those contacts. Also, pay attention to what you’re using when you dry your hands. If you’re using a towel or tissue that leave little fibers on your fingertips, they could transfer to your contacts and irritate your eye. I’m speaking from experience here, so make sure your fingers are super clean!
2. Skip the Water: Use a Solution!
Sure, turning on the faucet is simpler than opening up a drawer, pulling out a bottle, opening the bottle, and then squirting out some solution. But tap water (and even purified water) could bring really gross stuff onto your contacts, and then they’d be transferred to your eyes. Yuck.
Cleaning and rinsing your lenses with proper solutions will remove mucus secretions, films, and/or deposits that can build up. Not using solutions can lead to bacterial growth—gross! So what should you do? Using clean hands, carefully and regularly use a cleaning solution to rub the lenses with your fingers, and rinse thoroughly before soaking your lenses overnight in multi-purpose disinfectant solution.
31 percent of contact lens users admit to using re-wetting drops, and 16 percent use tap water to clean their contact lenses.
3. Replace Your Case.
Did you know you’re supposed to replace your case every three months? (I didn’t!) Did you also know the proper way to care for your case is like this: rinse the case with a solution, and rub it with clean fingers; dry with a tissue, and store it upside down. Who knew?!
4. Out With the Old, In With the New
Re-using old solution is a big-time no-no. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that almost 1/3 of contact lens wearers reported that they went to the doctor for red or painful eyes because of wearing contacts. Don’t be like those people. Use fresh solution, straight out of the bottle, every time you clean and store your contacts.
Did you know: Today, nearly 41 million adults in the U.S. (more than one in ten people) and 125 million people worldwide wear contact lenses.
5. ALWAYS Get Prescription Lenses
I get it, Halloween is right around the corner, and there are some pretty funky contacts out there to jazz up your costume. Here’s the thing: YOU’RE PUTTING THOSE ON YOUR EYES! Call me crazy, but I sure as heck want to know that the contacts I’m putting on my eye balls are recommended by my doctor. Get this: some decorative and non-corrective contacts are actually sold illegally since they’re sold without a prescription. Since they’re often sold through street vendors, flea markets, or beauty supply stores, they typically don’t meet quality and/or safety standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Say you do wear these decorative contact lenses, here’s what could happen: you might experience blurred or fuzzy vision; red or irritated eyes; pain in and around the eyes or, a more serious condition where the cornea becomes inflamed, also known as keratitis. These problems can lead to significant damage to the eye’s ability to function, and even irreversible sight loss.
Long story short: skip the crazy contacts and just invest in some funky makeup to play up your eyes.
6. What’s Up, Doc?
Don’t skip out on appointments with your optometrist, because there’s a lot more to an exam than what meets the eye (see what I did there?). Optometrists are considered the guardians of family eye and vision health, and it’s amazing how your eyes really are the windows to your soul (or at least your body). Besides performing comprehensive eye exams, Optometrists are on the front line of medical eye and vision care, and can help treat eye disease. The other cool thing is that they can recognize symptoms like diabetes and high blood pressure, just from looking at your eyes!
7. Toss ’em Out!
The allure of having disposable contacts, in my opinion, is that I throw them away at the end of the day. It turns out, I’m the minority that tosses them. According to the American Optometric Association’s 2015 American Eye-Q® Survey, more than half (59 percent) of Americans wear disposable contact lenses longer than the suggested duration. Say what? Throw those suckers away, people! If you keep practicing this bad habit it can cause permanent eye damage from bacterial infections and oxygen deprivation. Yikes!
Interesting information, right? I’m definitely going to handle my contacts a little different now, and when I get back home I’m going to make my next optometry appointment so I can get more contacts!
Did you learn something surprising and/or new from this post?
I’d love to hear what you learned in the comments below.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
I now save my contacts for special occasions too. I do need a new pair of glasses though. I didn’t think about replacing my case. When I use water my eyes won’t forgive me. I love my solution, hah.
🙂 Glad I’m not the only one who pulls out the contacts for special occasions! Oh! I think there’s a button on my sidebar for a brand of glasses I LOVE called Warby Parker. I have a few reviews on the blog about them, too. I love the company, and the glasses are great!
I wear contact lenses…and I admit I wear them longer than I’m supposed to… I will be more careful from now on ;(
This is actually really helpful, i’m not a contact lens wearer but I do have some different ones for Halloween and I had no idea how to keep them healthy! Thanks x
I wear contact lenses and I replace my case once a month! 🙂
YAY! Before I wrote this post the thought of replacing the case that often never ever crossed my mind!
Great tips! I’m happy to report that I’m already doing all of these things. Yay me 🙂
Every 3 months!? Shoot man! That’s the only tip that I don’t do. I just changed mine out recently, but I’m pretty sure I had my old case for over a year. Gross.
Dude, me too. I’ve been breaking so many of these things! I definitely learned several new things with this post!
i’ve been wearing contacts for more than half my life now and i didn’t know that people were using water to clean their lenses! i though that using solution was contact lens wearing 101 but I love the infographic!
Right? I was shocked at some of the statistics I discovered while writing this post. My husband definitely wears his contacts waaaaay longer than he should. I’m more of a rule follower 🙂
I am using contact lenses for a month and facing a lot of irritations in my eye. I probably did not know the reason why I am facing this issue and was browsing for solutions, then I came across this article of yours and followed all of the tips than you have putten up in this post. Now I feel much better than before and I really Thank you for this.