How Clean Are Your Contacts?

Did you know, at any given time, over 45 million people are wearing contact lenses? Contact lens wearers are given rigid instructions to keep them clean and to prevent contamination during wear, but just how many users are harboring more bacteria then they believe? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 90% of people who wear contact lenses admitted to committing at least one contact lens no-no. These no-nos include sleeping or swimming while wearing contacts, not replacing on schedule, or skipping their yearly eye exam.

To help you avoid this, below are some things to look out for to ensure you are not compromising your eye health without even realizing it.

Are you washing your hands before wear and removal?

If you touch your contacts without washing your hands, you could transfer microorganisms from your hands onto your lenses, increasing the chance of bacteria causing irritation or infection in your eyes. For instance, you could get pink eye from the transfer of bacteria and experience redness, irritation, and other eye symptoms. Always wash your hands before putting your contacts in and again before removing them.

Do you reuse the contact solution or top off the used solution in your case?

Contact lens solution is effective at disinfecting your lenses until you let it sit around for days, weeks, or even months. Bacteria can quickly grow and spread throughout the solution. If the bacteria transfers to your eyes, you could quickly get an infection or irritation that could lead to more severe eye issues.

Do you change your contacts as recommended by your optometrist?

No matter how clean you think your contacts are, contact lens solution does not extend the suggested wear cycle. Wearing your contacts after the recommended duration could lead to irritation, infection, and dry eye syndrome.

Do you swim or shower with contact lenses?

The shower, hot tub, and swimming pool can have bacteria and amoebae that can devastate your eyes if you do not disinfect your contact lenses properly. This could lead to vision loss and even blindness. If you have to shower with your contacts on, try to keep your eyes closed as much as possible. And if you do end up getting water, make sure to clean them thoroughly.

Do you put your lenses in your mouth?

Believe it or not, your mouth is full of bacteria. If you don’t clean the lens after putting it in your mouth, that could lead to irritation and infection in your eyes.

If you are experiencing any strange eye symptoms, schedule a comprehensive eye exam right away, and be honest about your contact lens habits. Many eye problems have similar symptoms, whether you’re dealing with dry eye, pink eye, or something else entirely. Instead of trying to self-diagnose and tackle the problem alone, see an optometrist. Your optometrist will review your symptoms, diagnose what you are dealing with, and help you find the quickest path to recovering.


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