How to Keep Your Eyes Safe While Wearing Contacts
It’s important to clean your contacts regularly and remove them each night in order to avoid irritation and infection.
Whether you wear glasses or contacts is a matter of personal preference, and there are advantages to either option. However, if you wear contacts, there are a few things to be aware of in order to keep your eyes healthy.
Contact lenses are generally safe and can be a convenient alternative to glasses, but because they sit directly on the eyes, they can lead to discomfort and even damage if not properly cleaned. It’s especially important that you not sleep with your contacts in.
Here’s what you need to know about caring for contact lenses, so that you can protect your eyes for the long-term.
Risks of Contact Lenses
While it’s uncommon to experience eye problems if you’re taking good care of your contacts, there are a few issues that can develop, including:
- Reduced oxygen supply. A contact lens rests on the surface of your eye, covering the entire cornea, which can prevent oxygen from reaching the eye. Oxygen is essential to keeping your eyes healthy, which is why it’s important to remove your contacts at the end of the day. If you’re experiencing discomfort, ask your doctor about soft lenses or silicone hydrogel lenses, as they allow more oxygen to reach your eyes during the day than conventional contacts.
- Dry eyes. Contacts absorb the eyes’ natural tears to stay soft, which can cause symptoms of dry eye, such as itchiness, a burning sensation, or redness. Persistent dry eye can even lead to corneal scarring if left untreated, so it’s important that your eyes stay moist throughout the day.
- Corneal abrasion. If your contacts are not properly fitted to your eyes, or if your eyes are persistently dry, you may be at risk for a corneal abrasion. Part of the reason why you should never sleep with your contacts in is that the lenses can trap particles of dirt and sand that rub against your cornea. These micro-abrasions can lead to more serious conditions, including infection.
- Red eye or conjunctivitis. Wearing contacts for long hours — especially if you leave them in while sleeping — creates a moist environment where microorganisms can flourish. The reduced oxygen reaching your eyes also means that your body won’t fend off infections as effectively as it should.
How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy
There are a few simple steps you can take to keep your contacts clean and prevent infection or injury.
- Only wear your contacts for as long as directed. When the time limit is up, discard your lenses and replace them as directed by your doctor — no exceptions. Deposits will continue to build up on your lenses over time, which will lead to eventual eye damage.
- Use lubricating contact solution. It’s also suggested that you clean your contacts holder regularly.
- Keep your contacts out of water. When swimming, always remove your contacts unless you’re wearing goggles. Using tap water instead of contact solution is not advised, as tap water can contain bacteria. Tap water also lacks the salts present in contact solution, meaning the contacts will absorb excess moisture and fit improperly.
- See your eye doctor regularly. This will ensure that your prescription is up to date, and help with early detection of any potential issues your contacts may be causing.
If you’re properly caring for your contact lenses and are continuing to experience discomfort, get in touch with Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers today. There are other treatment options available, including LASIK, that may be able to improve your vision with greater comfort and convenience.
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