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5 Common Contact Lens Care Mistakes (& How to Fix Them)

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person inserting a contact lens

Contact lenses are a part of many people’s everyday routine, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to how you care for them. Contact lenses are worn directly on the eye, so it is important to follow proper care habits to ensure your eyes aren’t damaged during wear and are kept free of infection. There are several common contact lens care mistakes that contact lens wearers often make. Are you one of them?

Wearing Your Lenses Longer Than Recommended

All contacts are disposable after a certain length of time, depending on the type of lens you wear. The most common types of lenses are disposable soft lenses, and they range from being designed to be won from 1 day to 30 days before replacement. If you wear specialty contact lenses, the wear time may vary.

Wearing your contacts for longer than their recommended time frame can be damaging to your eyes. If you don’t switch out your lenses regularly, your eyes can be at a bigger risk of eye infection due to a build-up of germs and bacteria.

This common mistake that most wearers make can easily be fixed by keeping in mind how long you’re wearing your lenses for and staying committed to replacing them when they’re due. 

Additionally, lenses should be replaced even if they weren’t worn for a few days. For example, if you wear 30-day lenses, opened a new pair, but wore your glasses for 15 days, they should still be thrown out and replaced at the end of the 30 days.

Not Cleaning or Replacing Your Contact Case Regularly

It is recommended that contact lens cases should be replaced every 3 months and cleaned periodically in between. Most wearers have been using their case for much longer than the recommended 3 months and cleaned far less often than they should. This can cause bacteria to build up in cases and may lead to infection or other issues.

contact lens solution being poured into a contact lens case

After removing the lenses from your case, you should discard the old solution, rub the wells of the case with clean fingers, rinse with contact lens solution, and wipe dry with a clean tissue. You can then let the remainder of the solution air dry face down on a clean tissue. 

Contact lens solution should never be “topped up”, but rather emptied and replaced after every use to avoid build-up of bacteria.

Avoid washing your cases with tap water, as tap water is safe to drink, but can carry many microorganisms and bacteria that can multiply and may lead to infection.

You Don’t Wash Your Hands Before Handling Your Lenses

Clean lenses are only as good as the hands that handle them. Your hands and fingernails can carry hundreds of different kinds of bacteria on them, and touching them to your eye can produce an infection.

It is important to always wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap before inserting or removing your lenses.

You Sleep or Nap In Your Lenses

Unless you are wearing lenses that are designed to be slept in, it is advised to always remove lenses before dozing off. Falling asleep wearing your disposable lenses increases your risk for eye infection, as the lenses can cause microscopic tears on your cornea and increase your odds of bacteria entering the eye. 

Additionally, leaving lenses in overnight blocks oxygen from reaching the cornea, which can lead to an overgrowth of new blood vessels in the cornea. This is called corneal neovascularization, and if enough damage is done, you may not be able to wear contacts at all.

Wearing your contacts through the night can also cause ulcers, red eyes, vision loss, pain, and discharge. To avoid any negative side effects, it is very important to always take out your contact lenses before sleeping.

You Aren’t Using the Right Lens Solution

Not all contact lenses are created the same. There are several different types that your optometrist may prescribe to you. Different lenses come with different chemical sensitivities and incompatibilities when it comes to lens solutions.

Always consult your optometrist before selecting a solution to ensure it is compatible and will promote the longevity of the lens. Most contact lenses have a specific type of solution to use to keep contacts feeling fresh and moist.

Contact lenses are a vital part of many people’s lives so they can live and work comfortably. Ask your optometrist if you are curious about contact lenses, or want to explore your options.

Written by Benjamin Teller

Dr. Teller earned his doctorate in optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1996 and has been helping local residents see clearly ever since. After graduation, Dr. Teller completed an internship with the Hopewell Valley Eye Associates, as well as several externships with the National Naval Medical Center and Katzen Eye Group.

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