Q: I am pretty careful about taking care of my contacts, but many of my friends seem to have lots of bad habits with theirs. Are there some key recommendations for safe contact lens use?
A: Yes there are! In fact, the Centers for Disease Control ( CDC ) just published some consumer/patient information sheets that are very useful and a little funny.
The CDC titles one of these “ Contact Lenses are Like Underwear “! They give three excellent points of advice:
- Don’t overwear: Replace your lenses on the schedule your eye doctor recommends for you. Too many people try to wear lenses until they hurt or seem blurry. This is too long for safety, as those symptoms will not occur until your eyes and/or lenses have some degree of damage.
- Avoid the sketchy pair: If your lens falls out or is dropped, do not reuse it unless you can immediately soak it in disinfecting solution. Rinsing with tap water, or your saliva/spit is a bad idea full of bacteria and potential problems. Don’t ever buy contacts from a costume shop, or anywhere that does not require a current, valid doctor’s prescription.
- Carry a spare pair of glasses: If you need to take your lenses out for an unexpected late night, or a jump in the pool, have your glasses ready to wear home. Likewise, if you drop a lens, having your glasses with you could make all the difference in driving home safely.
I would add one more common hazard...never ever reuse your disinfecting solution. Many severe eye infections have been caused by fungal organisms living in old solutions that then attach to the eye. Permanent vision damage can be the result. Be smart, be careful!