Contact lenses have become a sought-after solution for various optical needs. Like eyeglasses, it can correct your vision, provide relief from some eye conditions, or change your appearance.
However, there are certain things you must never do to ensure your eye health and safety when using them.
Whether you’re wearing (or planning to wear) colored contact lenses or those that are made to correct your vision, you should never make these five mistakes:
1. Not using the right kind of contact lenses
Although many people wear contact lenses for cosmetic reasons, most of these optical solutions are designed to offer clearer vision. This means they should fit your eyes exactly to achieve optimum effect.
There are many types of contact lenses available today. They can come in rigid gas permeable (RGP) or soft variants. Lenses can also be categorized according to the recommended length of usage (more on this later).
But if you’re wearing lenses to correct your vision, you may need a kind of lens specifically designed to treat certain optical conditions.
For example, toric lenses for astigmatism are shaped in a unique way than other types of lenses. If others are spherical or shaped like the side of a beach ball, toric lenses are torus-shaped, which is much like a slice of a donut.
This type of contact lens is designed that way to create various refractive powers on a person’s view in both horizontal and vertical orientation. As your eyes move around the lens, the strength of your focus decreases or increases gradually, allowing you to see things more clearly.
Below is a quick guide on the common contact lenses and their unique traits:
As the name suggests, soft contacts are made from soft plastic that is easier to adjust to, making it an excellent choice for first-time contact lens wearers. In most cases, these are much more comfortable than their RGP counterparts.
Soft contacts let oxygen pass through to the cornea. Newer variants made of silicone-hydrogels can even provide more oxygen while the contact lens is being worn.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contacts
If you’re after clearer and sharper images, then RGPs or rigid gas permeable contact lenses are the best options for you.
They are also more resistant to deposit build-up compared to soft lenses and are much more durable. Because they are rigid, RGP contacts are less likely to tear and easier to handle, which means they also provide crystal clear vision for longer.
The only disadvantage is that it may take you a couple of weeks to adjust to wearing them.
2. Wearing lenses beyond the recommended date
Besides the material they are made of, contact lenses are also categorized according to the length of time they could be worn. Most soft contact lenses need to be replaced within a specified schedule.
Because of this, contacts are classified as either disposable or made for extended wear, as explained below:
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term “disposable,” when used in contact lenses, means that they can only be used once before being thrown away. This means you’ll need a brand-new pair every day.
Some soft contacts are labeled this way, but they are actually just for frequent or planned replacement. These are meant to be thrown away after the prescribed wearing period is up (more on this below).
Extended Wear Contacts
Extended wear contacts can be used between a week to 30 days, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation. These are also available for continuous or overnight wear.
Extended wear contacts are often soft contacts as well. This is because very few RGP lenses are made and approved for overnight wear.
Take note that you’ll need to have your eyes evaluated by a licensed eye care professional before you can use extended wear contact lenses when sleeping. However, many eye doctors discourage contact lens wearing during sleep even if they are extended wear.
3. Failing to perform proper contact lens maintenance
Contact lenses have very specific care instructions that need to be followed. Otherwise, you’ll risk contact lens damage or worse – you might subject your eyes to infection-causing bacteria.
To make sure you avoid this, you must:
Never handle contact lenses with dirty fingers.
If you do, you’ll be transferring dirt, oil, and even bacteria to your eyes. To avoid this, always wash your hands with soap and water before taking out or handling your contacts.
Since contact lenses are already considered foreign bodies, you should make sure never to introduce germs into them to avoid eye infection.
Rub your lenses when cleaning them.
There are “no-rub” contact lens solutions available in the market. But even if you use them, it would be best to give your lenses a good rub when cleaning. This way, you’ll be able to remove any protein and germ buildup.
To do this, place your lenses on your well-cleaned palm. Rub them gently. After that, soak your lenses in the solution overnight to get rid of any debris you weren’t able to rub off.
Change your lens solution every day.
Ensure that you change the lens solution you use to soak and clean your lenses every after use. Otherwise, it would be just like doing laundry using dirty water.
Remember to avoid topping off old lens solutions as well. Instead, throw away the old one, wash the lens case, let it dry thoroughly, and refill with a fresh solution.
4. Sleeping, bathing, or swimming with your contacts on
While some contact lenses are labeled “extended wear,” it doesn’t necessarily mean you can not remove them during certain situations, especially when sleeping, bathing, or swimming.
Sleeping with your contacts on may impede air circulation in your eyes, which is crucial for fighting off bacteria and other germs.
Alternatively, you must make sure you don’t wear your lenses while being exposed to water – be it while taking a bath or swimming. This will help you avoid potentially blinding infections and other eye issues because of the microbes found in the pool or shower.
5. Not consulting an eye doctor before using contact lenses
Although some contact lenses are used for cosmetic purposes, failing to consult an eye doctor before wearing one is a huge mistake.
An eye doctor conducts a comprehensive eye test that will determine the overall health of your eyes and any issues that may interfere with your comfort and safety while wearing contact lenses.
Some things an eye doctor checks during contact lens fitting include:
- The size of the pupil or iris (the colored area of the eye)
- Your curvature of the cornea (the front surface of the eye)
- Your susceptibility to dry eye syndrome, which is measured through a tear film evaluation
Use Your Contact Lenses Safely
Safety should be your priority in everything, including contact lens wearing. Educate yourself with the common mistakes listed here and make sure that you avoid them at all costs.