Opening your eyes to incorrect use & care of contact lenses

Having been involved in optometry practices in Queensland for years, I’ve seen and heard of my fair share of patients presenting with eye issues due to the incorrect use and care of contact lenses. In saying this I need to clarify that most patients were trying to do the right thing but got it wrong and some knew they were doing the wrong thing and continued anyway !

People often think they if they buy their contact lenses online they can pick and choose what they feel like, this is not the case.  A contact lens prescription is required and only the lenses that have been professionally fitted and prescribed should be ordered. Failure to do this can affect the fit, comfort, vision and potentially the health of the eyes.

Eye care professionals love one day disposables lenses as they eliminate the cleaning and storage routine required when using monthly or two weekly lenses. These lenses require a careful, hygienic care routine to ensure they remain sterile, therefore reducing the risk of possible eye infections. When working in practice a lady presented with quite a bad eye infection and when our Optometrist asked her about her cleaning routine she told him that she regularly put her contact lens case in the cutlery basket in the dishwasher to clean it. Contact lens cases should be rinsed out with contact lens disinfectant solution and left to air dry before being refilled with new lens disinfectant solution, every time, that completely covers the lenses.  Never reuse solution, never use water or saliva to rinse or moisten lenses, saline solution is best for this and replace the case regularly.

Here’s the big one – Over wearing contact lenses, “Oh I usually get 6 months out of each set of lenses”, How many times have I heard this? And it’s said as though it’s an achievement. Wearing lenses beyond the scheduled wearing period is not wise. I can understand the temptation; lenses are so technically advanced these days, so still feel comfortable at the end of the wearing schedule. However, don’t be fooled deposit build up can reduce oxygen to the cornea to dangerous levels. These deposits also create a nice healthy environment for bacteria to grow which can cause bacterial ulcers that are nasty, painful and take ages to heal. The lids are also at risk of allergic inflammation which is uncomfortable even with the lenses out. Convinced ?

Teenagers and students with their limited funds often chose to buy their cosmetic coloured contact lenses online as they are cheaper. To further save money and get the most out of their lenses they share them with their friends. This is a sure fire way to get an eye infection.  No one in their right mind would share a tooth brush, well contact lenses are the same kind of personal product – there for individual use only.

This one surprised me because it was such a simple mistake but it points out how important it is to use the correct care products that have been recommended. A miner in Queensland, as part of his contact lens care routine was advised to clean and rinse his lenses in saline solution to remove the dust and dirt before storing them in his contact lens case submerged in contact lens disinfectant solution. However he was just using saline solution to do both jobs which meant that bacteria accumulated on his lenses and he ended up with an eye infection.

Make no mistake, incorrect use of contact lenses can damage your eyes and prevent you from wearing contact lenses in the future. Always follow your eye practitioner’s advice; wear and care for the contact lenses as you have been prescribed. If you are ever concerned, seek advice from the Optometrist associated with the website where you buy your contact lenses online or book an appointment with your eye care professional.

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