Unsafe Habits with Contact Lenses Could Be Putting Your Eyes at Risk

Do you wear contact lenses? You may think you are doing a good job with your lenses, but consider these questions:

Have you ever:

  • slept in your contacts?
  • showered in your contacts?
  • reused your contact lens solution?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you are putting your eyes at risk for inflammation and infection, and maybe even vision loss.Almost 41 million Americans wear contact lenses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report which found that almost all contact lens wearers admit to at least one safety lapse that would increase their risk of eye infection. This report’s data came from a nationwide survey of about 1,000 contact lens wearers over the age of 18.Not following correct guidelines certainly has its consequences because one-third of the participants in the study had sought medical care for eye redness or pain, which could have been prevented through proper handling of contact lenses. CDC medical epidemiologist Jennifer Cope, M.D., M.P.H., said, “Good vision contributes to overall well-being and independence for people of all ages, so it’s important not to cut corners on healthy contact lens wear and care. We are finding that many wearers are unclear about how to properly wear and care for contact lenses.”When surveyed, 99 percent admitted to not following proper hygiene and putting their eyes at risk for infection.The data from the study found that:

  • 87 percent napped in their contact lenses
  • Over 50 percent had slept overnight in their contact lenses
  • 61 percent had worn contact lenses in a swimming pool
  • 85 percent had showered while wearing their contact lenses

Inadequate lens cleaning was another common pitfall. Participants admitted to topping off solution instead of replacing their contact solution every day. Possibly the most dangerous of all habits is rinsing contact lenses with tap water instead of sterile solution. The report disclosed, “Household tap water, although treated to be safe for drinking, is not sterile and contains microorganisms that can contaminate lens cases and contact lenses and cause eye infections” (Source: CBS News).

  • Discard used solution from the contact lens case and clean it with fresh solution every day—never use water.
  • Remove contact lenses before showering or swimming, and keep contact lenses away from water.
  • Store contact lens case upside down with caps off after use.
  • Replace contact lens cases every three months.
  • Never sleep in contact lenses unless advised by an eye care provider.
  • Replace contact lenses as often as recommended by an eye care provider.
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