Do you have a love/hate relationship with your contacts? If you properly care for your lenses (and you’ve gone through a proper fitting with your optometrist), contacts should be comfortable for full-day wear. Proper soft contact lens care not only helps improve comfort, it also helps to prevent eye infections. Read on for our complete guide to caring for your soft contact lenses.
(For those who wear rigid contact lenses, please check back in for a future post on RGP contact lens care.)
Don’t over-wear your contacts
First and foremost, you should never try to stretch the life of your contacts. While it’s tempting to get as much use out of your contacts as possible, stretching a 2-week lens or monthly lens a few days (or weeks) beyond its limit, can lead to both dry, itchy eyes and/or an eye infection. To keep your eyes happy and infection-free, mark each day you wear your lenses on a calendar and note when they start to irritate your eyes. Is it after 14 days? 19? 30? Even if your contacts say they’re a monthly lens, they may only feel comfortable to you for 3 weeks. Adjust your wear schedule accordingly and your eyes will thank you.
Properly clean your lenses
Have you ever seen someone spontaneously pop out a contact lens, spit on it, and then pop it back in their eye? This quick on-the-go cleaning method is, unfortunately, an eye infection waiting to happen. Once you’ve worn contacts for a while, it’s pretty easy to pop the lenses in and out without looking, but there’s one thing that never changes: Whether you’re a novice or a pro, you should always wash your hands and contact lenses before placing them on your eyes.
Here are some foolproof steps to minimize the transference of germs and bacteria from your hands to your eyes:
1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
Avoid moisturizing soap as it can leave an oily residue on your hands that clouds your lenses. Dry your hands on a lint-free towel.
2. Rinse your contacts with lens cleaning solution.
Gently swipe the lens out of its case with the pad of your finger, not the tip, to avoid tearing the soft silicone with your nail. Place the lens in the center of your palm and cover the lens with a multipurpose cleaning solution. There are other cleaning solutions out there, but a multipurpose solution doesn’t require the use of any additional products. Do not use tap water, saliva, saline solution, or rewetting drops to clean your lenses.
3. Gently rub the lens to loosen debris.
Gently rub the lens between your thumb and pointer-finger to clean off eye-produced buildup, cosmetics, and other residues. Avoid touching the lens with your fingernails, not only to avoid tearing it but also to prevent bacteria and dirt from getting on the lens. This is an important step, even if you buy a ‘no-rub’ solution.
4. Rinse with clean solution.
After gently rubbing the lens to loosen any debris, rinse your lens in fresh multipurpose cleaning solution. Check the lens in the light to ensure you’ve removed all residue. If the lens looks cloudy or otherwise dirty, rinse the lens again until all debris is removed before finally placing the lens on your eye.
5. Always store your lenses in fresh solution.
Once you’re ready to remove your lenses, repeat steps 1-4 and then store them in your clean case with fresh multipurpose solution. Do not reuse your solution!
Cleaning & replacement tips for lens cases
The inside of your contact lens case can turn into a breeding ground for bacteria if you don’t properly clean, store, and replace it on a regular basis. Each time you wear your lenses, rinse your contact lens case with clean multipurpose solution and leave it open and overturned to dry.
Do not use water to rinse the case because it contains impurities and microorganisms that can irritate your eyes. It’s also important to dry your case away from the toilet and other humid places to avoid buildup of germs and mildew.
When storing your contacts, put enough lens solution in the case to completely cover your lenses. Twist the case fully closed and store in a dry, cool place like your medicine cabinet. Replace the case at least every three months, even if you’re regularly cleaning and drying the case as described above.
Additional lens care tips
The above lens care tips are often enough to keep your contacts clean and comfortable, but for some contact lens wearers, additional care may be required. It just depends on the type of contacts you wear and the sensitivity of your eyes.
Dry eye treatment
If your eyes feel dry when wearing contacts, you can re-wet the lenses with lubricating drops. This also may be a sign of over-wear or an eye allergy (see below).
It is possible to develop an eye allergy to the chemicals in contact lens solutions. Common symptoms of an eye allergy include itchy, red, tearing eyes, swollen eyelids, soreness or burning, and sensitivity to light. If you experience any of these symptoms while wearing contacts, you may need to switch to a lens solution that is preservative-free. If you think you’re experiencing an eye allergy, see your optometrist for proper treatment and to ensure that it’s not something more serious, like an eye infection.
Disinfect with a hydrogen peroxide solution
Sometimes you can alleviate an eye allergy to a contact lens solution by disinfecting your lenses in a hydrogen peroxide solution like Clear Care. This type of lens care solution should never be put directly in your eye–it is only used for cleaning and storing your lenses. Learn how to safely use Clear Care to disinfect your lenses on their website.
Always keep your contact lens solution in its original container. Attempting to transfer the solution to a smaller container can introduce germs and bacteria into the solution. It’s best to just buy your solution in the travel size package to avoid contamination. We also recommend to always bring at least one backup pair of contacts and a pair of glasses, in case your eyes become irritated and need a break.
Here are the main takeaways to keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy:
- Don’t over-wear your contacts
- Wash your hands before touching your lenses.
- Always rinse and clean your lenses thoroughly before placing them on your eyes and after removal.
- Never reuse contact lens cleaning solution.
- Let your contact lens case dry out between uses, clean and replace regularly.
- See your optometrist if you experience prolonged pain or discomfort while wearing your contacts.
If you’re interested in trying contacts for the first time or would like to try a new type of contact lens, we specialize in several different contact lens options to meet a wide variety of vision needs. Learn more here.
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