How To Care For Contacts

By John Dick ABO, FNAO

A Little Prevention Goes a Long Way
When caring for your lenses, the name of the game is hygiene. Think of all the things our hands encounter throughout the course of a typical day: dirty doorknobs, shaking hands with strangers, the sticky fingers of our kids, etc. Do we really want any of these things in our eyes? Beginning with that all important step of hand washing, the following is a list of tips to keep your lenses clean and your eyes healthy:

1. Always wash your hands with antibacterial soap and dry them with a lint-free towel. Removing bacteria and an assortment of germs is a great way to keep your eyes healthy, but drying your hands with a towel covered in lint will cause problems. Either find a relatively lint free cloth towel, or buy extremely cheap paper towels. Cheap paper towels have a tendency to be lint free and their disposable which may prevent the harboring of bacteria.

2. Avoid cosmetics and hairsprays when handling your lenses. Women should try to use water soluble make-up and insert their lenses before applying cosmetics. This will prevent a transfer of harmful powders and sprays which may not only irritate the eyes, but clog the pores responsible for delivering much needed oxygen to the cornea.

3. Replace your case often. Typically, contact lens solution boxes will come with a complimentary case. Use it! Denatured proteins and bacteria may build up on the side of contact lens cases and transfer these harmful substances to your lenses ultimately ending up in your eye. After inserting your lenses, you should rinse your case and allow it to air dry throughout the course of the day. Rinse and fill with new solution at night. After a month of use, discard this case and get a new one.

4. You should have two types of contact lens drops on hand: soft lens rewetting drops and artificial tears. Contact lenses are designed to retain their moisture and stay hydrated longer than ever before, however, using these drops will prevent a degree of discomfort some patients experience after a long day of lens wear. Soft lens rewetting drops are designed to be used in conjunction with the cornea and the contact itself. It helps to hydrate both the surface of the cornea and the contact itself. The artificial tears are to be used after contact lens removal. This will not only help to hydrate your eyes, but also give them some relief after a long day.

5. Adjusting your wearing time is another important aspect of minimalizing potential discomfort. When wearing lenses for the first time, you should only wear your lenses for four hours the first day and increase this time by an additional two hours each day until you reach your maximum wearing time. If, for any reason, you stop wearing your lenses, be sure to cut your wearing time back and build it up again. Your eyes will thank you.