Stop Wearing Contacts Too Long! 6 Tips for Changing Your Contacts on Time
According to a CDC survey, nearly 99% of contact wearers engage in at least one risky activity concerning their contact lens hygiene. These risks increase the chance of eye inflammation or infection. These behaviors include:
- Reusing contact lens solution
- Forgetting to clean contact lenses before wearing them
- Forgetting to replace the lens case after 3 months
Another risky behavior is wearing contacts for too long. Almost 50% of those surveyed admitted to wearing contact lenses past the recommended time. About one in six U.S. adults wear contact lenses and there are almost one million health issues yearly in America due to complications from contact lenses.
So how do you reduce the risk of these eye health complications? One thing you can do is change your contacts on time. Here are six tips to help you change your contacts at the recommended time.
How Long Should You Wear Your Contacts?
How long you should wear your contacts depends on what type you have. Here are the different types of disposable contact lenses and their recommended wearing patterns:
You wear daily contact lenses for one day and then throw them away each night. You don't need to worry about cleaning, rubbing, or disinfecting them with contact solution.
Weekly or Monthly
Weekly and monthly contact lenses are also disposable, but you don't throw them away every day. Instead, you wear these contacts daily and take them off before bed. You then clean and disinfect the lenses with solution and store them in their cases.
These types of contacts are thrown away and replaced either weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on the type you get. It's easier to forget to change these contacts on time if you don't make a note of the last time you replaced them.
How Bad Is It if You Wear Contacts Too Long?
When you wear contact lenses, lipids and proteins build up over time. If you wear contacts past the recommended time, the surface of the contact lens breaks down. This allows more buildup and other microbes to attach themselves. The result can lead to an eye infection.
Another CDC study notes that contact wearers who don't change their contacts on schedule can have more eye discomfort and complications. Those who do replace them on time tend to have fewer of these issues. Moreover, some people report worsening vision after not following recommended contact replacement schedules.
What Happens if You Sleep With Your Contacts On?
Based on the same CDC statistics, sleeping with any type of contact lens raises your risk of a microbial keratitis infection by six to eight times. Out of 10,000 individuals who sleep with their contacts on at night, about 18-20 will get microbial keratitis.
Even those who have contacts that are FDA-approved for "overnight wear" should be aware of the risks of sleeping with contacts on overnight. Not only do you raise your risk of infection, but you also risk hypoxia. Hypoxia is where your corneas do not get enough oxygen. This can cause dry eye and other complications.
Tips for Changing Your Contacts on Time
Now that you know the risks of forgetting to change your contacts, how can you make sure to remember to change them on time?
1. Set a Reminder on Your Phone
One of the most convenient ways to remember is to set a reminder on your phone. When you open a fresh new pair of contacts, grab your phone and set a reminder for the appropriate date. Depending on your contact lens schedule, this will be in one month, two weeks, or one week. When the day comes to change them, your phone will give you a gentle reminder.
2. Use an App
If you want to be fancy, you can download an app specifically for changing your lenses. There are several smartphone app options to choose from. Some apps can also keep track of the number of lenses you have left so you know when to order new ones.
3. Note Dates Down in Your Planner
Maybe you find inputting data in your phone too cumbersome. Some people like to record things the old-fashioned way, with paper and pen. If you have a planner, you can keep track of your contact lens schedule. Simply note the day you opened a new pair and pencil in the day you're supposed to change them.
4. Make Changing Them a Part of Your Nightly Routine
If you’re in the habit of sleeping with your lenses on overnight, add changing them to your nightly routine. Brush your teeth, wash your face, and remove your contact lenses. This way, when you get ready for bed, it will become an automatic part of your routine.
5. Make Sure to Count Skipped Days
When you open a new pair of lenses, that's the first day you start counting. If you have weekly disposables, you should throw those lenses out seven days after you opened them, even if you only wore them for one day.
The same goes for monthly and biweekly lenses. You should throw them out four weeks or two weeks after you open them, respectively. It may be tempting to extend the use of your contacts if you didn't wear your monthly ones for a full four weeks. However, any money saved isn't worth the risk to your eye health.
6. Tape a Note on Your Bathroom Mirror
If you really have trouble remembering to change your lenses, stick a note on your bathroom mirror with the upcoming change date. This way, you'll be sure not to miss it.
More Tips for Wearing Contacts
Taking care of your contact lenses and following guidelines is important to maintaining your eye health. In addition to changing your contact lenses on time, the CDC recommends always washing and drying your hands before handling them. Also, make sure to see your eye doctor regularly. These simple recommendations can make wearing contacts easy and healthy.