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Health Team

Do you break some of these contact lens rules?

Posted September 26, 2017 9:28 a.m. EDT

Contact lenses correct vision and offer a natural look, but they require special maintenance and certain rules for safe use.

Doctors recommend taking them out before sleeping or napping, but some people don't. A report from the Centers for Disease Control said that the most common offense by contact wearers.

The problem with leaving contact lenses in while sleeping is an increased risk for eye infections, among other things, said Cleveland Clinic ophthalmologist Dr. Allison Babiuch.

"In addition to infections, you can also get irritation and other problems to your cornea, the front surface to the eye," Babiuch said.

A CDC report shows six out of seven contact lens wearers reported at least one risky lens-related behavior. Besides sleeping in them, other bad habits include swimming in lenses and not replacing disposable lenses and cases frequently enough.

To reduce the risk of developing an eye infection, doctors recommend wearers always wash their hands with soap and water before handling lenses.

The lens should also only be cleaned with contact lens solution.

Lens cases should be replaced every three to four months to keep bacteria at bay, and lenses should be stored in a clean case with fresh solution each day.

Signs of an eye infection include decreased vision, redness, watering and discharge from the eye.

Babiuch said anyone experiencing problems with their eyes should see a doctor and bring the problematic lenses with them.

"Take the contact lens out, but keep it, don't throw it away," Babiuch said. "Put it in a contact lens case, and bring it with (you) to your appointment because if we do see signs of an infection we can culture the contact lens itself also."

Some contacts are approved for overnight wear, but many ophthalmologists don't recommend them. They say they can lead to eye infections.

WRAL Health Team's Dr. Allen Mask said the cornea of your eye needs to breathe, and your eyes need a regular break from contacts. If you're in too big of a hurry to do proper contact lens maintenance, don't cut corners. Instead, wear a pair of prescription eyeglasses to prevent potential eye infection.