Have you ever gone to the dentist and, despite always brushing twice a day, leave with an appointment to come back for a filling? That’s because cleaning your teeth becomes so routine that you’re just going through the motions without very much care. The same idea applies to putting in your contact lenses – because it’s a daily chore, you’re probably cutting corners without even thinking about it. And while this might seem like a benign offense, it could be doing serious damage to your eyes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained that if you have bad contact lens habits, you aren’t alone. About 99 percent of contact wearers practice at least one risky behaviour when it comes to managing their ocular health. While wearing glasses or getting a LASIK procedure could eliminate these risks, millions of people still choose to improve their vision via contact lenses. If you’re a contact lens wearer, here are some behaviours to avoid.
Keeping them in too long
One of the most common bad habits among contact lens users is wearing them far too long. Because different prescriptions have varying rules about use, consult with your physician to determine exactly how long is too long when it comes to keeping your lenses in. People who don’t change lenses frequently enough often experience irritation and infections at higher rates than those who follow the time recommendations of their prescriptions.
Not taking care of cases and solutions
You wouldn’t eat food if the container it came in appeared dirty or damaged, but many people don’t follow this logic when it comes to their contact lenses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 55.1 percent of contact lens wearers don’t empty and refill their solution, but rather just “top it off” when it looks low. This might sound harmless, and even economical, but it’s a seriously dangerous routine to get into.
Contact lenses absorb biocide, the element present in solution that helps kill bacteria. Once it’s been absorbed by a lens, biocide is no longer present in the mixture, making it essentially ineffective. If you’re just placing your lenses into the same batch of solution each night, your lenses are not being disinfected and you’re putting yourself at risk for ocular diseases.
Many people get into the habit of washing their cases with water to save solution. Water won’t do anything to combat the bacteria that can grow inside your case, so always rinse it with your cleaning solution and dry it with a fresh towel.
Touching lenses with dirty hands
Even if you’re vigilant about replacing your solution and washing your case, all that hard work is negated once you touch your lenses with unwashed hands. Foregoing a scrub before handling your lenses and eyes sets you up for corneal infiltrative events, which are caused by bacteria. When you wash your hands, always dry them thoroughly, however, as introducing water into your contacts can cause microorganisms to get into your eyes and cause irritation.
If you’re a contact wearer, keep these health risks in mind whenever handling your lenses. Remember, cutting corners with your ocular health could lead to irritation or infections. When in doubt, speak to your physician or consult your prescription’s guidelines.
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