Contact Lens Care and Safety

Contact Lenses: Safe Vision Corrector or Health Risk?

45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses. For many, they are a necessity to function in everyday life, but some people may not be taking the proper steps to make sure their contact lenses are helping them see and not actually harming their eyes.

One of the most important things to remember when dealing with contact lenses is to never put anything in or on your eye that hasn't been prescribed by an eye doctor. Contact lenses are not one-size-fits-all. Optometrists and ophthalmologists go through a fitting and evaluation process to make sure the prescribed contact lenses are a safe option for the patient. Patients have a right to purchase their lenses wherever they please, but it is critical to make sure the lenses provided are the ones that were prescribed, including brand, lens material and shape. If the prescription is expired, lenses should not be provided without a complete in-person examination. Your body, including your eyes, changes as you age, so lenses that have worked for you in the past may not be the safest option for you moving forward.  

Once you've received your prescribed contacts, it's important to proceed with cleanliness in mind. Infection- causing bacteria can grow on your lenses without proper care. The first line of defense in protecting your eyes from bacteria is washing your hands before handling your contact lenses. The next is following your eye doctor's direction on how to best clean them. Basic tips for keeping yourself safe include using fresh solution in which to clean and store your contact lenses, replacing their case every three months.  

"Treating contact lenses like the medical device they are is vital," said Overland Park optometrist Dr. Jason Rogers. "Visit your eye doctor for ongoing contact lens and eye health evaluations, follow your prescribed cleaning and wearing schedule and seek care immediately if any challenges arise."  

Certain activities, such as swimming, shouldn't be done while wearing contact lenses. And take them out before going to bed unless your doctor has specifically informed you that you can sleep wearing your contact lenses. According to the CDC, sleeping in contact lenses "can lead to serious adverse health outcomes," resulting in vision loss, surgery or the necessity of hourly eye drops.  

For more information regarding contact lens safety, visit www.aoa.org or www.cdc.gov.

September 10, 2018