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10 Things You Should Not Do When Wearing Contacts

woman rubbing eyes with smudged makeup

Learning how to wear contacts can take a little time. You have to get used to putting them in, taking them out, and maintaining them. But there's a lot more that goes into contact lens safety. You also have to be extra mindful when wearing contacts so you won't cause damage to them or your eyes.

You can't wear contacts 24/7, and there are some situations when contacts aren't the right eyewear option at all.

Here are 10 "don'ts" of wearing contacts to help you take good care of both your contacts and your eyes.

1. Don’t Rub Your Eyes

Are you someone who rubs your eyes throughout the day because of dryness or irritation or when you’re just plain tired? You can't do this with contacts in.

When you wear contact lenses, you should try not to rub your eyes at all. This can cause damage to your cornea, which may lead to serious damage to your vision and possibly a need for eye surgery.

Take extra care if you do rub your eyes. Be as gentle as possible. If you have the time, although it may not be practical, remove your contacts beforehand.

2. Don’t Touch Your Contacts With Dirty Hands

Just as you shouldn’t rub your eyes while wearing contacts, the same rule applies when it comes to touching your eyeball or your lenses. At least, not without washing your hands first and making sure they're completely dry.

Think of all the things your hands come into contact with throughout the day. Between bathroom doors, grocery carts, handrails and computer keyboards, your hands collect a whole bunch of germs. All it takes is one touch of your eye to transfer those germs to your contacts and damage them or your eyes with a serious infection.

3. Don’t Leave Makeup on Your Lenses

woman putting on mascara while wearing contacts

This one isn't as common as rubbing your eye or touching them when they are irritated, but it does happen. Have you ever applied eyeliner only to accidentally touch the pencil to your eye?

If this ever happens with your contacts in, take them out right away (after washing your hands!). Clean the lens with solution, then reinsert it in your eye. To avoid this altogether, make it a habit to do your makeup first. then put in your contacts.

4. Don’t Let Sweat and Sunscreen Run Into Your Eyes

Makeup isn’t the only thing that might sneak into your eyes. If you like to go for outdoor runs or spend a lot of time tanning in the sun, you have to be careful about sweat and sunscreen getting into your eyes.

This poses the same dangers that makeup on a contact could. It may create an infection or irritation in your eye that will need medical treatment to heal.

Prevent this from occurring by putting your hair up, wearing a sweatband, and avoiding sunscreen application near your eyes. You can also choose cooler times, such as nighttime, to exercise so you won’t sweat as much. If you exercise at night, you won't need to put on sunscreen either!

5. Don’t Get in Water With Lenses On

Man getting splashed in the face with water

Another thing that can't touch your eyes is water. Don't ever go swimming with your contacts in. It doesn't matter if you're in the ocean, a lake, or a freshwater spring. There are all kinds of bacteria in the water that can damage your lenses and eyes.

If you think swimming pools are free of organisms that would love to inhabit your eyes, think again. Saltwater or chlorinated pools cannot kill off all organisms. So those are just as bad for your eyes as natural pools. Chlorine can also affect your contacts in ways that could only be fixed by replacing them.

When in water, there's a chance that bacteria grab onto your contacts and stay there to multiply. This then affects your eyes and can compromise how clean your contact case is, too. All you have to do to avoid this, though, is keep your lenses away from water.

If you go swimming, simply leave your lenses in the change room or wear tight fitting goggles. If you’re showering, put your contacts on when you’re done.

6. Don’t Keep Lenses on Irritated Eyes

Keep in mind your eyes may become irritated as a result of things like allergens in the air or dryness. If that's the case, you need to take your contacts out ASAP.

Leaving them on irritated eyes can only cause more damage. It's extremely uncomfortable and may result in long-term issues if you're not careful.

Whether or not your contacts are the cause of the irritation, removing them will give your eyes the break they need to help them recover.

7. Don’t Forget to Give Your Eyes a Break

Speaking of breaks, that brings us to our next point.

Say you have a long day where you wake up before the sun rises and you don’t get home until late at night. It's better to switch between your contacts and glasses half way through your long day than to depend on the contacts till you get home. Your eyes need to breathe. This is especially true if you have a tendency to get irritated eyes.

If they are red, dry, or itchy, this could be a sign you need to take your contacts out and give your eyes a chance to breathe. It's incredibly important you do this throughout the day and every night.

8. Don’t Fall Asleep With Your Contacts On

woman sleeping on stomach resting head on pillow

This point is the major reason why eye doctors advise their patients to always take their contacts out before falling asleep. Sleeping with your contacts on can dry out your eyes and cause long-term damage to your vision.

It can also compromise the quality of your lenses, but that's the least of your problems in comparison to your eye health.

With contacts on your eyes all night, the buildup of proteins and lipids on your lenses can make it very uncomfortable for your eyes. Not to mention that it provides a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria to create an infection.

9. Don’t Expose Your Lens Case to Heat

Whether you're taking your contacts out during the day or just before you go to bed, you have to be mindful of where you put the case. Don't leave your contacts case in your bag when you're at the beach, and do your best not to leave it in your car, wherever you go.

Exposure to heat can dry your contacts out and it may compromise their quality, too. Other good practices for the case include daily cleaning and air drying. This helps to remove any buildup of bacteria.

10. Don’t Wear Lenses Without Cleaning Them

person putting solution in contacts case

The final mistake to avoid when wearing contacts is putting them in without cleaning them. Always use fresh solution when putting your contacts back in their case and when you're about to put them on as well.

Regular cleaning may seem like a hassle, but it's the best way to avoid an infection or irritation. A few minutes spent every day will go a long way in regards to your eye health and quality of your vision.

Become a Pro at Wearing Contacts

blonde woman putting contacts in mirror

It's one thing to read about the mistakes to avoid when wearing contacts, and another to understand what you need to do to keep them in good shape.

Focus on everything you can do right instead of what you may possibly do wrong if you want the best results. Become a pro at putting in contact lenses by following some of our expert tips.

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