Contact lenses offer more benefits than prescription glasses, making them a popular choice for people who need a device to help them see better.
Unlike glasses, contacts move with your eye and do not impede your vision since they do not have any frames. Additionally, they do not get splattered on by rain or mud and fog up when you leave a cool room.
Moreover, contact lenses are more convenient to wear when you engage in sports or physical activities.
However, wearing contact lenses does not mean you can relax and ignore or neglect key practices to maintain the health of your eyes or preserve your vision.
Whether you have monthly multifocal contacts for presbyopia or regular ones, you have to follow the right practices for wearing and taking care of them.
Contact Lens Discomfort and Infection
The level of discomfort some people feel when wearing contacts ranges from mild lens awareness, or the sensation of having something in your eye, to noticeable, significant pain.
Additionally, contact lens discomfort has different symptoms, including:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Stinging or burning
- Light sensitivity or photophobia
If you are using contact lenses for the first time, it is normal to feel one or more of these symptoms.
However, if you still experience any of these symptoms regularly whenever you have your contacts on, you need to see your optometrist as soon as possible.
Aside from discomfort, the incorrect use and improper maintenance of contact lenses can also cause eye infections that you should be on your guard against.
Keratitis is one of the common eye infections you have to be vigilant about when you wear contact lenses.
Keratitis, also known as corneal ulcers, is an infection of the cornea or the clear outer covering of the eye. Its symptoms include eye redness and pain, blurred or decreased vision, excess tears or discharges from the eyes, and difficulties opening your eyelid because of severe pain or irritation.
People who wear contact lenses are also at higher risk of getting a parasitic infection in the eyes caused by acanthamoeba. This particular parasite lives in swimming pools and hot tubs.
These parasites can infect your eyes if you keep wearing your contacts while in the water.
Additionally, you can spread harmful bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, from your skin, mouth, and nose to your eyes. These can stick to your contacts and enter your eyes.
Even normal, harmless bacteria can give you an eye problem. When they accumulate on your contact lenses and enter even the smallest cut or scratch on your eye, you can develop an infection.
You are also at a higher risk for bacterial infection if you always sleep with your contact lenses on.
Reducing Your Risk of Contact Lens-Related Discomfort and Infection
If you want to keep wearing contact lenses comfortably and with no worries of discomfort and infection, follow these tips:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your contacts.
The simple yet important practice of washing your hands properly not only helps you avoid coughs, colds, and other illnesses; it also allows you to keep eye discomfort and infection at bay.
Before putting on and removing your contact lenses, wash and rinse your hands thoroughly.
Use a mild non-cosmetic soap whenever possible since those with perfumes, oils, or lotion can leave a film on your hands, which can get into your lenses and cause eye irritation.
Regardless of what soap you use, make sure you rinse your hands thoroughly so that no soap residue is left behind.
Also, always dry your hands completely before touching your contacts.
- Keep your contact lenses clean.
Cleaning your contacts regularly can save you from an eye infection.
Some of the most important practices you have to keep in mind when cleaning your contact lenses include:
- Always clean your contacts with a sterile solution. Never use tap water and homemade solutions, since those may contain impurities and microorganisms that can cause infections.
- Rinse your contact lens case every time you use it with a sterile solution. Allow it to air dry before filling it with a new solution and putting your contacts inside it. Also, replace your contact lens storage case every three months.
- Throw away any remaining solution in your contact lens case. Use only a fresh batch of solution when storing your contacts in their case. Avoid topping off the leftover liquid since it may not have enough antiseptic substances to kill off bacteria.
- Ensure your contacts fit you perfectly.
When you have properly fitted lenses, you’ll hardly notice that you are wearing a pair. However, if they don’t, you’ll feel like there’s something in your eye that shouldn’t be there.
This will make you feel uncomfortable and irritated.
Having an optometrist assist you when you are buying contact lenses can help you get an assurance that you will get a pair that fits you perfectly.
These experts will be able to recommend a pair that suits the unique shape of your eyes.
- Use lubricant eye drops.
Dryness of the eyes is one of the symptoms of contact lens-related discomfort.
When you have dry eyes, your contact lenses can stiffen and become uncomfortable.
Lubricant eye drops or artificial tears moisturize your eyes and stimulate natural lubrication. They keep your contact lenses hydrated, enabling them to sit comfortably in your eyes.
However, not all types of contact lenses are compatible with artificial tears. As such, ask your optometrist which brand works best with your contacts.
- Follow your optometrist’s instructions for wearing your contacts.
Heeding your optometrist’s recommendations for wearing your contact lenses can help you lower your risk of getting eye infections and ensure you avoid discomfort.
The most important instructions you have to follow are:
- Removing your contact lenses before sleeping. Failing to do so can cause redness, soreness, and infection.
- Removing your contacts before entering a swimming pool or hot tub.
- Wearing your contact lenses only as long as your doctor recommends. If you are using monthly contacts, replace them after 30 days and don’t extend their use.
- Avoid wearing someone else’s contact lenses and sharing yours with others. This facilitates the spread of particles, bacteria, and viruses from one eye to another.
When you feel any pain and discomfort and notice any sign of an eye infection that does not seem to be getting any better, consult your optometrist immediately. Doing so ensures you can continue wearing contact lenses safely and enjoy the benefits of using them.