• How to Take Care of Contact Lenses

    Written By: Kierstan Boyd
    Reviewed By: Elena M Jimenez MD
    Sep. 09, 2018

    You can get a serious eye infection if you do not clean and disinfect your contact lenses exactly as directed.

    Contact Lens Risks

    Contact lenses that are old or that do not fit well can scratch your eye. They can also cause blood vessels to grow into your cornea, a dangerous condition that threatens your vision.

    Eye drops can cause problems with your contact lenses. It is best to avoid using any kind of eye drop when wearing contacts. However, you can use wetting drops as recommended by your eye doctor.

    Remove your contact lenses and call your eye doctor right away if your eyes are very red, painful, watery or sensitive to light. Do the same if you have blurry vision or notice discharge (ooze or pus) coming from your eye. These can be symptoms of serious eye problems.

    Take Proper Care of Your Contacts

    You must clean and disinfect any contact lens you remove from your eye before you put the lens back in. There are many types of cleansing systems. The choice depends on the type of lens you use, if you have allergies or if your eyes tend to form protein deposits. Ask your eye doctor what kind of cleaning solutions you should use.

    Take special care to clean and store your lenses correctly to avoid dangerous eye infections.

    Here is what you should do:

    • Follow the schedule your eye doctor gives you for wearing and replacing your lenses. You should not wear daily wear lenses while you sleep.
    • Remove contact lenses before taking a shower, using a hot tub, swimming, or doing anything where water gets in your eyes.
    • Before touching your contact lenses, wash your hands with soap and water and dry them with a lint-free towel.
    • Never put contacts in your mouth to wet them. Saliva (spit) is not a sterile solution.
    • Do not rinse or store contacts in water (tap or sterile water). Also, never use a homemade saline solution.
    • Do not use saline solution or rewetting drops to disinfect your lenses. They are not disinfectants.
    • Follow directions from your doctor and from the lens cleaning solution manufacturer to clean and store your lenses.
    • No matter what type of lens cleaning solution you buy, use a “rub and rinse” cleaning method. Rub your contact lenses with clean fingers, then rinse the lenses with solution before soaking them. Use this method even if the solution you are using is a “no-rub” type.
    • Use new solution each time you clean and disinfect your contact lenses. Never reuse or “top off” with old solution. Also, do not pour contact lens solution into a different bottle. The solution will no longer be sterile.
    • Make sure the tip of the solution bottle does not touch any surface. Keep the bottle tightly closed when you are not using it.
    • Rinse your contact lens case with sterile contact lens solution (not tap water). Then leave the empty case open to air dry.
    • Keep your contact lens case clean. Replace the case at least every 3 months, or right away if it gets cracked or damaged.
    • If you store your lenses in the case for a long time, check the contact lens instructions or the lens solution directions to see if you should re-disinfect them before wearing them. Never wear your contact lenses if they have been stored for 30 days or longer without re-disinfecting.
    • Contact lenses can warp over time, and your cornea can change shape. To make sure your lenses fit properly and the prescription is right for you, see your eye doctor regularly.

    Are Contacts Right for You?

    Millions of people choose to wear contact lenses. However, they are not for everyone. You might not be able to wear them for the following reasons:

    • You get a lot of eye infections.
    • You have severe allergies or dry eyes that are hard to treat.
    • You work or live where it is very dusty.
    • You are not able to properly care for your contact lenses.

    Your cornea and tear film must be healthy for you to be comfortable and see clearly with contact lenses.

    To safely wear contact lenses, you must be committed to caring for them properly and replacing them when needed. Talk with your ophthalmologist or other eye care professional to discuss your vision needs and expectations. They can help you decide if contacts are a good option for you.