A recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights some of the worst contact lens mistakes. Chances are you’re making at least one.
A Shocking Habit
When I was a teenager, I had a friend who wore contact lenses. Back then, they were a novelty to me. I thought it was fun to watch her place them in her eyes.
One day, she complained they were uncomfortable. Assuming they were dry, she did something I will never forget.
She popped them out of her eyes and into her mouth. After “wetting” them for a few seconds, she placed them back into her eyes.
I was horrified. That was nearly three decades ago. Still, it may be the worst case of contact lens abuse I have ever seen.
What Are You Doing Wrong?
If you’re living the visual lifestyle, you’re not rinsing your contacts in your mouth. But according to the CDC, it is likely that if you wear contact lenses, you’re doing something wrong.
A report released last week states more than 99% of contact lens wearers do something that increases their risk of a painful or sight-threatening eye infection. That means pretty much everyone who wears contacts could do better.
It’s worth the effort. Eye infections can mean frequent trips to the eye doctor, using eye drops every hour, and possibly missing work or school while the eye heals.
Here are the bad habits most commonly reported:
- Routinely sleeping in contact lenses. If you sleep in contacts, you’re 6 to 8 times more likely to get an eye infection. If you wear contacts designed for overnight use, discuss alternatives with your eye doctor. If your contacts aren’t meant for overnight use but you sleep in them anyway, you need to stop now. Healthy eyes and clear vision are worth the effort.
- Occasionally sleeping in contact lenses. Even napping with contacts in your eyes once can cause painful and sight threatening problems. If you’re sleepy, take the extra time to remove your contacts. I have many patients at LaFollette Eye Clinic who wish they had done just that.
- Overwearing contact lenses. Whether the reason is money or memory, many people don’t throw away contact lenses when they should. This is also a big risk. Your safest bet is to switch to daily disposable contact lenses. Single-use lenses were the safest in the report, causing fewer than 4% of the problems.
- Wearing expired contact lenses. Skipping expired lenses isn’t wasteful, it’s smart. To be safe, see if your eye doctor will exchange expired lenses for new ones. They may get credit from the contact lens company and pass the benefit on to you.
- Storing contacts in tap water. Water is bad for contact lenses. If you don’t have proper solution you must find some or throw your lenses out. Tap water contains germs that can be dangerous to your eyes. This also means you shouldn’t wear your contacts while showering or bathing, in pools or hot tubs, or playing in the surf or the lake.
Millions of people wear contacts successfully every year. To be safest, make sure you’re not doing the things on the list above. When worn and cared for properly, contact lenses can be a great addition to your visual lifestyle.
Question: Have you ever suffered an eye infection from contact lenses? What happened? Please comment below.
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