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A Guide to Contact Lens Care and Hygiene

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Contact lenses offer a lot of freedom for anyone who wants to be able to see clearly and not have to worry about wearing glasses. But this freedom comes with responsibility: you must look after your lenses carefully and be very aware of proper hygiene practices.

To ensure your contacts remain comfortable and safe for your eyes you should follow these practices:

Washing Your Hands is Really Important

It might seem obvious, but this is very important – your hands come into contact with numerous different surfaces throughout the day. Some are clean, some not so much, different surfaces can harbour bacteria, germs and dirt. So it’s imperative that before you handle your lenses, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands completely with a lint-free towel to avoid transferring any lingering moisture or towel fluff to your eyes.

Cleaning and Disinfecting: Your New Daily Ritual

Most contact lenses require daily cleaning and disinfection. Your optometrist will have given you instructions to make sure you are cleaning and disinfecting your lenses correctly – for the health of your eyes, follow these directions closely. Cleaning usually involves a "rub and rinse" with a solution specifically designed for contact lenses. Rub the lens gently between your thumb and forefinger for a few seconds on each side. Rinse thoroughly with fresh solution, ensuring all debris is removed. Make sure your solution bottle is tightly capped and avoid contact with surfaces and other objects while you are using the bottle.

No Tap Water or Saliva

It might be tempting to rinse your lenses with tap water or moisten them with saliva, especially when you're on the go. This is not a good idea as tap water can contain microorganisms that could lead to an eye infection.  Saliva is teeming with bacteria and can damage your lenses. Always stick to using fresh contact lens solution.

Contact Lens Case Care

Your contact lens case plays a vital role in hygiene. Rinse it out with fresh solution after each use and leave it open to air dry completely. This prevents moisture build-up, which can foster bacteria growth. Replace your case every three months, or sooner if it shows signs of wear or damage.

Showering and Swimming with lenses

Water, even treated water, can contain bacteria and parasites that can adhere to your lenses and potentially cause eye infections. It's best to remove your lenses before showering or swimming. If you must wear your contacts while swimming, looking into protective goggles.

Don’t sleep in your lenses

Unless you're specifically fitted for extended-wear lenses, avoid sleeping in your contacts. Overnight wear significantly increases your risk of developing eye infections. This is because your eyes need oxygen when you sleep, and lenses can restrict airflow.

Pay Attention to Your Eyes: Signs of Trouble

Contact lenses are delicate and need to be handled with care. If you experience any discomfort, redness, irritation, or blurred vision, remove your lenses immediately and contact your optometrist. These could be signs of an eye infection or an issue with the fit on your lenses.

Proper care of your contact lenses will help avoid irritation, infection or damage to your eyes.

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The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Regular eye exams are crucial for maintaining good eye health, whether you wear contacts or not.

Contact lenses are medical devices and you are putting an artificial substance in direct contact with the surface of your eye.

Regular appointments with your optometrist will mean they can assess your eye health, ensure your contact lens prescription is up-to-date, and address any concerns you might have. They can answer any questions you have about contact lens care and hygiene, advise you on the best lens type for your needs, and ensure your eyes stay healthy and comfortable for years to come.

Healthy eyes are essential for a lifetime of clear vision, so prioritise good hygiene and schedule regular eye exams.