Caring for today’s contact lenses is easier than ever. Furthermore, patients need to be diligent to keep the lenses clean and prevent problems such as a buildup of protein on the lenses. This is the basic cleaning regimen:
- Wash your hands so you don’t transfer dirt and germs to your eyes. Dry your hands with a lint-free towel.
- Remove one lens and clean it with a cleaning solution. Place the lens in the palm of your hand with a few drops of cleaning solution, and rub the lens gently with your fingertip. This removes protein buildup and other debris that may have gotten on the lens.
- Rinse the lens again to remove the loosened debris. Follow the rinse duration recommended with the cleaning solution.
- Place the lens in a clean lens case and fill with fresh cleaning solution. Don’t keep the old solution. Replace it with new every time you take the lenses out.
- Repeat the process with your other lens.
Patients should store contact lenses in the recommended solution. Every time a patient stores their lenses, we require them to place the lenses in a fresh solution. We recommend not reusing the solution as it can harbor bacteria and debris. Patients should rinse their contact lens case with the solution after use and leave the caps off to store the case. You should replace your contact lens case once every three months, or sooner if build-up has begun to form.
How Long Does a Contact Lens Fitting Take?
At the Longwood Eye & LASIK Center, we combine your regular eye exam along with your contact lens exam if you are already a lens wearer. While this may seem redundant, once we test your visual acuity and the other tests to determine your eye health and whether or not you need to correct refractive errors, we then move on to contact specific tests. These include measuring your cornea to measure the curvature, measuring the pupil and iris, evaluating your tear film, among others. If you are a new fit or refit, you must return on another day for the contact lens portion of your exam.
An appointment usually takes around one hour.
How Many Hours per Day Can I Wear My Contact Lenses?
Patients may wear some extended wear contact lenses for 30 days, day and night. But in most cases, we still recommend that our patients put their contacts in every morning and remove them (and clean them) every night before bed. This lessens the chances of eye infection and other problems with long-term contact lens wear. Plus, it is good to give your eyes a break from wearing lenses. The optimal time for wearing contact lenses is a maximum of 10-12 hours per day.
How long can contact lenses stay in solution?
If you only wear your contact lenses occasionally (say for distance vision when you’re playing golf), or if you’re going on a trip and don’t want to take the solution, lenses, etc, you can store your lenses in a closed lens case in a multi-purpose solution for 30 days.
Is it okay to wear contacts every day?
Yes. Contact lenses are designed as an alternative to eyeglasses. Daily wear contact lenses are meant to be worn every day and then discarded at night before you go to bed. These are the best choice for contact lenses because their one-day lifespan limits the ability for proteins and bacteria to build upon the lenses. But extended wear lenses are also meant to be worn every day. They simply require more diligent care to keep them clean, although this still only takes a minute or so every night before bed.
Can I take a nap while wearing my contact lenses?
Everyone falls asleep wearing their contacts at some point while watching TV or reading and other instances. Short accidental naps are unavoidable. But you should not sleep overnight in your contact lenses, no matter what the lens company says. Your eyes like to rest, breathe, and clean themselves at night.
Can you take a shower with your contact lenses?
The FDA recommends that contact lenses should not be exposed to any kind of water other than your contact lens solution. This includes tap water, water in swimming pools, oceans, lakes, hot tubs, and the shower.
Why? Water can be home to countless viruses and dangerous microbes. One of the most serious is the Acanthamoeba organism, which can attach to contact lenses and cause the cornea to become infected and inflamed. This is a condition known as Acanthamoeba keratitis and is associated with wearing contact lenses while swimming. This can cause permanent vision loss.
Put your contact lenses in after you shower or go to the pool, not before. If you want to see well at the beach and still swim, it’s best to take your eyeglasses.
How long does each pair of contact lenses last?
There is a wide spectrum of contact lens types and lifespans. We’ll discuss your options when you’re here, but for a general idea, this is how long different lenses last.
- Disposable soft contact lenses — These lenses are either “daily wear” or “extended wear.” Daily wear lenses are removed every day and a new pair is used the next day. Extended wear lenses can last from 7 to 30 days. They say they can be worn continuously, but we recommend removing them at night for sleep.
- Frequent or planned replacement soft contact lenses — These lenses can last from one to several months.
- Reusable hydrogel and silicone hydrogel soft contact lenses — These lenses can last up to one year. Rigid GP (gas permeable) lenses can last for years with proper care and maintenance.
What are some things I should not do when wearing my contact lenses?
Contact lenses are a great alternative to eyeglasses for millions of happy users. But there are various things you should do with your contacts.
- Don’t rub your eyes — If you’re an eye rubber when you’re tired, it’s a bad thing to do to your eyes regardless, but you cannot do this with contacts in. This can cause damage to your cornea.
- Don’t touch your contacts with dirty fingers — Think of all the germ-ridden places your hands touch every day: bathroom doors, grocery carts, handrails, computer keyboards, other people’s hands, etc. Now think of transferring those germs to your eye when placing a contact lens. Bad idea. Wash your hands thoroughly before ever placing your contacts.
- Don’t leave makeup on your lenses — If you happen to accidentally touch your eye with your eyeliner or other makeup, take the lens out (after washing your hands), clean it with solution, and then reinsert it. Better yet? Put on your makeup before putting your lenses in.
- Don’t let sunscreen get in your eyes — While we all need to protect our skin from the sun’s UV rays, it’s easy to sweat and get it in your eyes and on your contacts. This can lead to eye infections or surely irritation. Try and avoid applying sunscreen directly above your eyes, or exercise at a time when you sweat less. If you know you’re going to sweat a ton and you have to apply sunscreen, maybe don’t wear your lenses.
- No swimming or showering — Never let any other source of water touch your contact lenses. This includes tap water (cannot be used as a lens solution), showers, baths, pools, hot tubs, oceans, and lakes. All of this water has all sorts of bacteria in it and that can lead to eye infections and corneal damage when those bacteria adhere to your lenses.
- Take them out when your eyes are irritated — It’s a good rule to take your contacts out if your eyes are scratchy and irritated. This may be due to allergens, dusty or smoky air, or simple dryness. Your eyes are telling you they need a break; so take out your lenses.
This same idea applies to long days. If you’re at the office from sunrise until the wee hours, it’s a good idea to give your eyes a break somewhere in the day. Your eyes like to breathe. Put on your eyeglasses.
- Don’t sleep with them in — No matter what anyone says about continually wearing your contact lenses 24 hours a day, don’t do that. The problem is that during the night your lenses build up proteins and lipids, and this provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This spells eye infection and damage. So, take the minute or two and remove your lenses and clean them every night before bed.
- Don’t wear lenses without first cleaning them — Don’t skimp on your lens cleaning solution, leaving it in the case for a few days without changing it and then putting on your lenses. Always use fresh solution when putting your contacts back in their case and when you’re about to put them on. Also, change your lens case every time you get new solution; a case comes with these solution bottles.