Contact Lens Care
You have decided to make the switch from glasses to contact lenses. Congratulations!
If you have chosen daily disposable contact lenses, it is easy to care for your new contact lenses. Simply wear them for the day and toss them in the garbage at the end of the day. Easy, peasy.
Extended wear contact lenses, ones that you can re-use and replace weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or only once a year are also an option for new lens wearers. But, they can take a bit of extra work to keep them clean and safe to use.
Wearing contact lenses too long, or cleaning them improperly, can lead to serious eye infections, putting your vision and eye health at risk. It is very important to clean and care for your contact lenses properly, along with your contact lens cases and accessories.
Your eye care professional has probably already gone over a few of these tips and tricks with you, but we have compiled some information that you may also find helpful.
The Basics of Contact Lens Care
- Always wash and dry your hands before removing or putting in your contacts. Use plain soap, without extra fragrances or moisturizers, as these could damage your lenses.
- Dry your hands with a lint-free towel to avoid any debris sticking to your fingertips.
- Clean your contact lenses once a day.
- Always clean your contacts as soon as you take them out.
- Follow a consistent cleaning routine with products that your eye doctor has approved.
- Every time you put your contact lenses in, clean your lens case. Be sure to turn it over and let it dry out completely.
- When you are not wearing your contact lenses, always store them in a tightly closed case or holder.
- Clean your contact lens case with the same solution you use to clean your lenses, never water.
- Replace your contact lens case every 3 month to reduce the risk of infection.
- Do not switch your cleaning routine or products without talking to your eye doctor, as some products may damage your lenses.
- Do not use tap water, saline, straight hydrogen peroxide, saliva or rewetting eye drops to clean your contact lenses. None of these will actually clean or disinfect your lenses, leaving you at risk for serious eye infections and irritations, or worse chemical burns on your eyes.
What Do You Need to Clean Contact Lenses?
Depending on the type of contact lenses that you have been prescribed by your doctor, you will need a few basic supplies to keep your lenses squeaky clean and irritant free.
- Multipurpose cleaning solution
- Contact lens case or lens holder
Depending on your eyes, the lenses and care routine that you and your eye doctor choose, there are also other products that you may need, like:
- Protein removers: your eyes will naturally deposit proteins on your lenses, which can build up and make your contacts uncomfortable to wear. Normal cleaning will remove some of the protein, but an enzymatic cleaner is the only way to get rid of the deposits completely. Enzymatic cleaners in tablet form, dissolved in saline in your case before you put your lenses in, and daily liquid protein remover, are both ways to remove the buildup. Be sure to talk to your doctor about protein removal if you are wearing the kind of lenses that only get replaced once or twice a year.
- Eye drops: a lot of contact lens wearers report the feeling of dry eyes, so the use of rewetting eye drops is often necessary.
- Saline solution: used for rinsing or storing your contact lenses, saline is also needed in some cleaning and disinfecting devices. Do not use saline products alone to clean or disinfect your lenses.
If you experience sensitivity to any of the above mentioned solutions, talk to your doctor about switching to a preservative-free method like ones that use subsonic waves and ultraviolet light to clean and disinfect your lenses.
Cleaning Your Contact Lenses
The method most recommended by eye doctors for cleaning soft contact lenses is the “rub and rinse” method. Using this method, you gently rub the lens in a cleaning solution, rinse the lens and then store it in a case with solution that disinfects it.
Below are the individual steps that you need to do to keep your eyes safe.
- Start by washing your hands to make sure they are clean and free of debris. Make sure your fingernails are not ragged and are cleaned as well.
- Starting with one eye, remove your contact lens and place it in the palm of your hand.
- Pour some of the multipurpose solution into the palm of your hand. Use enough to cover the lens, but not have it float away in your hand.
- Using the tip of your index finger, avoiding your fingernail, swirl and rub the lens in the solution for at least 20 seconds (always be sure to follow the exact instructions on the product).
- Once you have rubbed the lens, pick it up between your thumb and index finger. Dump the solution from the palm of your hand.
- Return the lens to your palm and rinse with fresh solution. Be sure to follow the rinsing instructions that your product suggests, as rinse times can vary.
- Place the lens in your CLEAN lens case or holder and fill with fresh solution. Do not reuse solution in your cases. Close the case tightly to allow the disinfecting to complete.
- Repeat steps 2 through 7 for your other eye.
Other Tips for Contact Lens Care
- Always handle your lenses with your fingertips, avoiding contact with your fingernails.
- If you use hairspray, use it on your hair before you put your contact lenses in.
- When applying eye makeup, put it on after you have put your contacts in.
- Always remove your contacts when you are showering, swimming or going into a hot tub.
- Never use water, tap or sterile, on your contact lenses. There are microbes and microscopic contaminants in water that can cause eye infections and irritation.
- Never put your contact lenses in your mouth. Saliva is not a sterile substitute for cleaning solution.
- Do not touch the tips of your solution bottles with your fingers or any surface. This can contaminate the solution.
- Remember to clean your cases and accessories often.
- Do not transfer contact lens cleaning solution into smaller containers for travel. This can lead to contamination.
- Always follow the instructions that your contact lenses, cases and cleaning solutions come with.
- If you are having trouble sticking to your cleaning and wear schedule, create a reminder in your phone.
Consult Your Eye Doctor Regularly
If you follow the above cleaning steps and care properly for your lenses, your experience with contact lenses should be great, free from the hassles of prescription glasses.
If your eyes get irritated, appear bloodshot and red, or swollen, remove the contact lenses immediately and call you doctor. Do not wear them again without speaking to your doctor, as serious irritations or infections can lead to permanent vision loss.
Visit your doctor immediately if you have sudden vision loss, blurred vision that doesn’t improve, eye pain or other signs of infection. Unusual redness, itchiness, and swelling are also indicators that something is not right and will need to be looked at by your health care professional.
Have more questions about contact lens care? Visit our helpful contact lens fitters at any Eyestar Optical
Disclaimer: This information has been compiled from various sources and is intended for information purposes only. If you have further questions about contact lenses or may be experiencing any vision problems, it is always best to consult with your doctor as soon as possible.