Are Contact Lenses Safe for Your Eyes?

October 7th, 2019

Contact lenses are a convenient alternative to eyeglasses, but it’s important to care for them properly in order to avoid infections.

Some 40 million Americans wear contact lenses as an alternative to eyeglasses. And while most people experience no problems, contact lens users should be sure to take proper care of their lenses to avoid infections and other vision problems.

As they sit directly on the eye, contact lenses can restrict oxygen flow to the cornea if worn for a long period of time. Since healthy eyes depend on a steady stream of oxygen, contact lens wearers may benefit from soft or silicone hydrogel lenses that allow more oxygen to reach the cornea. Another option is rigid gas permeable contact lenses. These lenses cover less of the cornea, thereby allowing for more oxygen exposure. Rigid contacts also shift when you blink so that replenishing tears can penetrate under the lenses.

Whatever type of lenses you choose, it’s important to keep them clean and in good condition. Surprisingly, the Food & Drug Administration estimates between 40 and 90 percent of contact lens wearers fail to follow the instructions on how to protect their lenses, which may cause wearers to develop potentially serious eye conditions.

How To Care for Your Contact Lenses

Maintaining your contact lenses — and your eye health — comes down to following some basic guidelines. Here are four tips to help you enjoy clearer vision with contacts:

  1. Clean Lenses Regularly. Use a solution recommended by your doctor and follow the instructions on how and when to clean the lenses. When pouring a new batch of solution into the case, drain any remaining solution and add a fresh splash of lens cleaner. Plus, remember to replace contact lens cases every three months to prevent a build-up of bacteria. 
  2. Don’t Sleep in Contact Lenses. It’s important to remove your lenses prior to bedtime and place them in a cleaning solution. Even if you use extended wear contacts, which can be worn overnight for between one to six days, take them out occasionally to give your corneas access to more oxygen. Lack of oxygen can lead to infections, as well as conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a transparent layer of tissue lining the inner part of the eyelid and the white part of the eye.
  3. Discard Lenses After Expiration Date. Even with regular cleaning, dirt and grime continue to build up on the lenses. Therefore, be sure to replace your contacts as instructed by your doctor or the manufacturer.
  4. Visit Your Eye Care Specialist Regularly. Your vision needs naturally change over time, and routine appointments with your eye doctor help keep your prescription up to date. Regular visits also offer an opportunity to discuss any discomfort you may be experiencing so the issue can be addressed. Most importantly, regular eye exams can detect serious vision disorders such as cataracts at the earliest, most treatable stage.

How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

ICON Eye Care specializes in helping patients improve their vision with glasses, contact lenses, or corrective surgery. If you’re experiencing discomfort with your contacts, we can diagnose the problem and offer a personalized solution. We’re also experts in LASIK eye surgery, a quick and effective procedure that can eliminate your need for glasses or contacts. Contact us today to set up an appointment.