If you clean it, they won’t come

In North America alone, almost a million cases of eye infections were reported in 2014 due to the improper care of contact lenses. Keratitis, or the injury/inflammation of the cornea, is one of the many infections that can occur when contact lenses are misused and improperly cared for. Keratitis can be caused by bacteria, fungus, herpes and microbes such as acanthamoeba, which are hard to treat.

Keratitis is preventable with the proper maintenance and use of contact lenses. If left untreated it can leave corneal scarring that may impair vision. Some severe cases even call for corneal transplants. Symptoms of contact lens related infections may include the following: blurred vision, red eyes, eye pain, excessive tearing or eye discharge, increased sensitivity to light and the feeling like something is stuck in your eye. If you feel any of these symptoms, consult an eye doctor ASAP.

There are many factors that contribute to unclean contact lenses such as: the environment, sleeping with contact lenses still in, using extended wear lenses, diminished tear production under the lens, poor hygiene, poor maintenance of contact lens cases, using old solution) and improper handling/cleaning of contact lenses.

Use daily disposable lenses, or follow these tips

All the eye experts agree that using daily disposable lenses is the safest for your eyes because there is no cleaning and maintenance involved. Replacing your contact lenses daily also means that the accumulation of lens deposits are a thing of the past. If disposable contact lenses aren’t feasible, follow this no-nonsense guide to proper contact lens care:

  • Always wash your hands with soap that doesn’t contain oils, perfume or lotion and use a clean, lint free towel to dry your hands.
  • Always use your finger tips to handle contact lenses. Don’t use your nails, tweezers or any other tools.
  • Always check your contacts for debris and damage before putting them on. Never wear damaged contact lenses.
  • Never sleep with contact lenses in, even if you’re using extended wear contacts. Give your eyes a break at night. You won’t be needing your contacts anyway when your eyes are closed.
  • Use an app to remind yourself when to change your lenses. A simple calendar app will do, or you can download Wunderlist if you want to add more details to your reminders.
  • Don’t overuse one pair of contacts. Only wear them as long as prescribed by your optometrist.
  • Never let others use your contact lenses, and likewise, never use other people’s contact lenses. This is the fastest way to spread an infection.
  • The tip of the solution bottles should never touch anything else. No fingers, eyes or contact lenses, anything foreign can contaminate the solution.
  • Wearing contacts may cause your eyes to become sensitive to sunlight. Never go out without wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection and a hat.
  • Always keep your eyes lubricated with a doctor prescribed re-wetting solution.
  • Accidentally wearing your contacts inside out will be uncomfortable and you should know it immediately. Clean it again before re-inserting it in your eyes.
  • If you develop any sudden eye irritation, blurred vision, eye flashes, swelling, redness and eye pain, remove your contact lenses and visit your eye doctor immediately.

Contact lenses provide millions of people a chance at better vision and an improved quality of life. With proper care and maintenance, the threat of serious eye infections can be prevented.

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