If you wear contact lenses, are you avoiding bad contact lenses habits? How many of us have ever slept in lenses that are meant to be removed before bedtime, or jumped in a pool wearing our contacts, or worn them past their prescribed replacement date? If you can honestly answer “yes” to any of the above, you are at risk of a serious contact lenses-related eye infection.
The vast majority – 80 to 90 percent – of eye infections found in people who wear contact lenses are bacterial. One of the more common and tough-to-treat bacteria is known as staphylococcus aureus. The most severe infection one can get is pseudomonas aeruginosa. This fast-growing bacterial infection can actually lead to the development of a hole in your cornea which can lead to a good chance of permanent scarring and vision loss.
Other possible risks of poor contact lenses management are fungal infections such as aspergillus or fusarium which also are a potential threat to your vision.
The very best way with a high success rate in avoiding any type of infection for contact lenses wearers is to simply practice good contact lenses habits. Faithfully following your optometrist or ophthalmologist’s recommendations on caring for contact lenses is another very safe bet helping you avoid facing the possibility of an infection threatening your eye health and vision.
Be alert to signs of an infection
Anytime there is something out-of-the-ordinary with your eyes, it could be signaling an infection which includes the following:
- Red, painful eyes
- Watering or discharge from the eye(s)
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- The sensation of a foreign body in the eye(s)
At the first sign of any of the above symptoms, get it checked out by your eye doctor immediately. Your vision is too important to risk long-term damage from an infection.
Never sleep, swim, or shower in your lenses
Unless you have contacts in which you can sleep in, do not do so otherwise. If you are not sure, ask your eye doctor.
Tap water or water in a swimming pool, hot tub, lake, pond, or ocean is a potential hazard to your contact lenses. Water can contain pathogens or pollutants that can result in infections in your eyes if wearing your contacts. One particularly dangerous infection sometimes found in water is acanthamoeba keratitis which is caused by a free-swimming amoeba. This amoeba can cause visual impairment or even blindness.
Avoid sleeping in contact lenses
This again needs to be addressed with your eye doctor on what they recommend as there are some brands of contact lenses that can be worn for several weeks before replacing them. However, one of the biggest problems with sleeping or over-wearing the lenses is that your eye will not get sufficient oxygen. The added oxidative stress will make the eye more vulnerable to various bacteria and pathogens that can lead to infections, inflammation, and abrasions to the eye.
Soft contact lenses are especially at risk as they create an ideal condition for pathogens to grow.
Always store and disinfect lenses properly
Every single day throws out the solution your contact lenses have been sitting in during the night. Also be sure to replace lens cases at least once every three months. Keeping a case too long will only lead to a buildup of pathogens within the case.
Consider using a hydrogen peroxide solution
One of the best and most efficient methods of reducing bacteria is to store contact lenses in a hydrogen peroxide-based solution. These solutions, which can be used daily, are sold in retail stores and are highly recommended by eye doctors.
Discuss with our eye doctor as to which one they recommend for your particular type of contact lenses. There are many different brands to choose from and some brands are geared for certain types of lenses. Generally, the recommendation is to store and soak your lenses in this solution for at least six hours. Never put a hydrogen peroxide solution directly into your eyes as it will cause intense pain and burning.