Contact lenses may be the perfect answer to your vision problems. But if you don’t take good care of your lenses, they could also do real damage to your eyes.
As part of Contact Lens Health Week, check out these tips to get the most of your contact lenses:
1) Buy from a professional
According to All About Vision, contact lenses are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because they are medical devices. It is not safe to wear contact lenses that have not been specifically prescribed for you and professionally fitted to the shape of your eye.
This includes novelty lenses that can change the color of your iris or the shape of your pupil like those that are popular around Halloween. Do not risk your vision for a novelty look or a cheaper set of lenses.
2) Let your eyes breathe
Your eyes need oxygen just like the rest of your body. But unlike most of your body, the surface of your eyes takes in oxygen directly from the air, not just through your lungs.
Make sure your eyes get the oxygen they need by discarding and replacing your contacts on the schedule your eye doctor recommends.
If they are appropriate for your vision, consider lenses that transmit more oxygen like silicone hydrogel contacts, or rigid gas permeable lenses.
3) Keep them clean
If you wear glasses and they get dirty, it just gets harder to see. If you wear contacts and they get dirty, you put that dirt directly into your eye.
Eye irritation and infections can lead to ulcers on your cornea or even blindness.
As your contacts get older, bacteria and other germs can accumulate on the lens which increases your risk of an eye infection.
Be sure to clean your lenses thoroughly on the schedule provided by your eye doctor. And make sure you use the contact lens solution recommended to go with your specific type of lenses.
Even if your lens solution is labelled “no rub,” studies show that rubbing will get your lenses cleaner. And be sure to empty, rinse and refill your storage case every time you put your contact lenses away. Never “top off” the case.
4) Replace on schedule
Always follow your eye doctor’s instructions for how long you can leave your contacts in your eyes. And be sure to replace your lenses and throw away the old ones on schedule.
Old lenses that are past due to be replaced will have more deposits on the lens and can shut off the flow of oxygen to your eyes. Also be sure to replace your lens storage case every three months to prevent bacteria from accumulating in the case.
5) Have a back-up plan
Make sure you always have a back-up pair of glasses with the correct prescription. If your eyes become irritated while wearing your contacts, switch to your glasses to give your eyes a rest.
Talk to your eye doctor if you have pain or redness in your eyes or if your vision is blurry.
6) Get a check-up
Just because you think your vision is still clear is no excuse to skip a visit to the eye doctor. During your eye exam, your doctor will screen your eyes for possible health concerns in addition to checking your vision.
Schedule your eye exam every year, or follow the schedule your doctor recommends.
Contact lenses are a great tool to help you see better. Taking proper care of your lenses can reduce your risk of eye infections or other problems that can affect your vision.
If you have questions about your vision or whether contact lenses are right for you, talk to your eye doctor or health care provider.
Reviewed August 18, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
Can Contact Lenses Damage Your Eyes? All About Vision. Gary Heiting, OD. Web. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
Contact Lens Risks. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Web. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
Healthy Contact Lens Wear. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
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