5 Tips to Avoid Contact Lens Related Eye Infections

If you don’t like the idea of having to wear glasses to see clearly, you’re not alone: about 45 million Americans prefer to use contact lenses to correct vision, according to the American Optometric Association. Contact lenses are a safe, effective, and convenient way to remedy a variety of common vision problems. However, they can also cause eye infections when they’re not worn as recommended or cared for properly, which may require urgent care

Here at Accent Vision Specialists in Santa Fe, New Mexico, our eye care specialists want to make sure you develop healthy habits so you can avoid the pain, irritation, and inconvenience of a contact lens-related eye infection, as well as the potential long-term vision damage.   

Try these simple strategies to minimize your risk of developing a contact lens-related eye infection: 

1. Always wash your hands before handling your contacts

Getting into the habit of washing your hands before you put your contact lenses in or take them out is the most effective way to reduce your risk of eye infection. If you forget to wash your hands, you’re likely to transfer germs to your contact lenses and lens case. 

To remove the germs from your hands, lather soap on moistened hands — including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails — for at least 20 seconds. You also want to dry your hands on a clean, lint-free towel after washing. 

2. Take your contacts out before showering or swimming

Wearing contact lenses in any type of water, even chlorinated water, increases your risk of contracting a severe eye infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis, which is caused by a free-living amoeba commonly found in water all over the world. Though rare, the eye infection is painful and difficult to treat. 

To avoid contact lens-related eye infections, take your contacts out before swimming, using the hot tub, or showering.  

3. Don’t forget to take your contacts out before bed

Sleeping in your contacts significantly increases your risk of developing microbial keratitis, a serious corneal infection. Even if you use extended wear contact lenses approved by the FDA for day-to-night wear, you should always remove your contact lenses before you call it a night. Sleeping in any type of contact lenses boosts your chances of developing an eye infection. 

4. Practice good contact lens hygiene

Contact lenses require daily cleaning. Many contact wearers believe that rinsing them in a disinfectant solution and soaking them overnight is the best way to clean them between each use.

However, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says the best way to remove microbes from your contact lenses is by placing them one at a time in the palm of your clean hand and rubbing it in your store-bought contact lense solution with the tip of your clean finger. Then, rinsing your contact lens with the store-bought contact lens disinfecting solution. 

For the same reason you shouldn’t swim or shower while wearing contacts, you should never use water to clean your contact lenses.

5. Don’t extend the life of your contacts or contacts case

Even if you take excellent care of your contacts, you shouldn’t try to extend their life beyond the amount of time that’s recommended. People who don’t replace their contact lenses when they should are more likely to experience discomfort and develop eye-related complications that may lead to permanent vision changes. 

To avoid contact lens-related eye infections, replace your contact lens case every three months. Even with proper cleaning and care, your contact lense case can still become contaminated with microscopic germs over time. 

For comprehensive eye care from a team that specializes in contact lenses, contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

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