More than 40 million Americans wear contact lenses. However, up to 90% of wearers don’t follow the instructions for how to care for their lenses.
Some of the most common risky behaviors include not removing lenses before going to bed or taking a shower. As a result nearly a third of all wearers visit their eye doctor at least once a year to treat redness and discomfort or more serious infections.
With this in mind, the Centers for Disease Control started Contact Lens Health Week in 2014, but you don’t have to wait until August to celebrate. Study these tips so you can protect your eyes year-round while you enjoy the freedom of contact lenses.
Selecting Your Contact Lenses
1. Talk with your doctor. There are many different kinds of lenses to choose from. Even if you end up buying your lenses online, it’s advantageous to have an optometrist or ophthalmologist examine your eyes and ensure that your lenses fit correctly.
2. Understand your condition. Contacts lenses are now safe and effective for correcting many issues including cataracts and astigmatism. You may be an especially good candidate if you’re nearsighted and would need to wear your glasses most of the day.
3. Compare the costs. You’re probably wondering how much this all costs. With a typical prescription, you’re likely to spend about $400 a year on lenses and solution. The cost of eyeglasses varies widely depending on designer frames and other choices, while laser surgery usually costs more than $4,000 for both eyes, and may not be suitable for some patients.
4. Weigh each factor. Talk with your doctor about finding the appropriate balance for you. You might decide that you’d rather spend more for lenses that are easier to care for or give up a little sharpness of vision for greater comfort.
Caring for Your Contact Lenses
1. Wash your hands. Scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your lenses or your eye. That way you’ll cut down on the transfer of germs.
2. Check your solution. Different types of lenses require different products. Follow your doctor’s recommendations. Empty your lens case and fill it with new solution each day instead of topping off the remaining liquid.
3. Buy a new case. More than 80% of contact lens wearers are holding onto their cases for too long. They need to be replaced at least once every 3 months so bacteria doesn’t build up.
4. Remove lenses before sleeping or swimming. Your eyes become dryer and more prone to irritation when your lids are closed. Similarly, even distilled water can contaminate your lenses. Regardless of what the label says, it’s safer to take your lenses out before you shut your eyes or even take a shower.
5. Master insertion and removal. Fumbling around can tear your lenses. Watch a demonstration online or at your doctor’s office about how to handle them.
6. Apply eye makeup skillfully. You can still wear mascara and eyeshadow. Shop for non-allergenic brands and put your lenses in before you apply cosmetics. When you’re ready to take your makeup off, remove your lenses first.
7. Wear sunglasses. You may notice that contact lenses make your eyes more sensitive to light. Bring your shades along when you head outdoors.
8. Treat symptoms promptly. Following your doctor’s instructions lowers your risk for eye infections and injuries to your corneas. Seek care immediately if you notice any sudden change in vision, flashes of light, or significant discomfort.
Maybe you like how you look without eyeglasses or you need contact lenses for your particular medical condition. Either way, being diligent about caring for your lenses will help keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear.