A Simple Guide to Caring for Soft Contact Lenses
Properly caring for soft contact lenses is extremely important. If you’re new to wearing soft contact lenses, it’s critical to know how to keep your eyes healthy and your contacts problem-free.
More people are wearing contacts than ever before. In fact, almost 45 million Americans wear soft contact lenses. The shocking truth is that 6 out of 7 lens-wearers admit to doing at least one thing that could put them at risk for an eye infection. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention August 2017) This means there could be more than 38 million mistakes being made every day!
Fortunately, contact lenses are very safe and comfortable to wear when professionally fitted by an eye doctor. However, it’s your responsibility to take good care of your lenses and make good habits part of your daily routine for the health of your eyes.
5 Steps to Caring for Your Contacts
There are five steps to caring for your soft contact lenses.
- Wash your hands
- Clean your contact lens case
- Clean one contact lens at a time
- Rinse the lens, and
- Store your lenses in their case.
If not done properly, your contacts may not last as long as they otherwise would. And you could become prone to infections. So it’s important to follow each of the steps very carefully.
Step 1: Wash Your Hands
The first step when caring for contact lenses is one of personal hygiene; wash your hands completely with soap and water. However, also be sure that the soap does not contain lotion, oil, or perfume. These can leave a residue on your hands that will transfer to your soft contact lenses and then irritate your eyes.
The Center for Disease Control outlines five steps for washing your hands “the right way”.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold).
- Lather your hands (the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails) by rubbing them together with soap.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Step 2: Clean Your Contact Lens Case
Clean your lens case each time you use it. The best way to clean the case is to rinse it with sterile contact cleaning solution.
Do not dry the case because most cloths contain at least a small amount of lint. This lint will stick to your contacts and create irritation.
Most eye doctors recommend replacing your case every three months. This helps to reduce the chance of bacterial contamination.
Step 3: Clean One Contact Lens At a Time
Remove the first contact from your eye and clean it with the appropriate contact solution. Different contact brands need different products. Make sure that you use the cleaning products recommended by your doctor. You can ruin your contacts and harm your eye by using the wrong products.
To clean your contact, do the following:
- Put the contact in your palm.
- Add a couple of drops of cleaning solution.
- Gently rub the contact with your index finger to remove buildup and dirt.
Here are some things to avoid when caring for your contact lenses:
- Never use tap water or distilled water on your contact lenses because both may contain bacteria that cause infections.
- Do not put contacts in your mouth. Your mouth contains thousands of bacteria that cause infections.
Step 4: Rinse the Lens
Rinse the contact with more cleaning solution in order to eliminate all debris. Be sure that you are thorough. Lingering debris can cause irritation and infections. Place the cleaned contact in your lens case and then fill the case with the appropriate solution.
Step 5: Store Your Lenses in Their Case
Place the cleaned contact in your lens case and fill the case with the appropriate solution.*
Then, repeat with the other eye.
Never try to clean both contacts at the same time because soft contact lenses will dry out quickly when exposed to the air. As soft contacts dry, they change shape and become uncomfortable. Oftentimes, a soft contact that has dried out becomes weak and breaks. Additionally, exposure to the air, especially without any cleaning solution, can lead to contamination.
*Types of Contact Lens Solution
Not all solutions are right for all soft contact lenses. Finding the right solution is important. Talk with your eye doctor about the best solution for you. There are many to choose from, including:
- Multipurpose solutions: These do it all. They clean, rinse, disinfect, and store your contacts. As a result, many of these solutions eliminate the need to rub your contact. Instead, storing contacts in the solution for at least four hours gets rid of any buildup. As you can imagine, this is a popular kind of solution because it is easy to use. Many brands are also inexpensive.
- Hydrogen peroxide solutions: As the name suggests, these contain hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong disinfectant. When using this type of system, you will have to neutralize the hydrogen peroxide because it is harmful to the eyes. Be sure to use the correct solutions in the correct order to avoid eye injuries.
- Saline solutions: Saline is perfect for rinsing your soft contact lenses but does not disinfect them. Many people use saline solution before disinfecting with hydrogen peroxide.
- Daily cleaners:Daily cleaners: This type of solution is used for cleaning and rinsing your contacts. However, it does not disinfect them.
Caring for soft contact lenses is not difficult. Just be sure to follow these simple steps and your doctor’s instructions. This will help keep both your eyes and your contacts in good condition.