In a recent interview with Global News, optometrists Dr. Joe Chan and Dr. Jeff Goodhew warned people who wear contact lenses that there are serious risks associated with not caring for them properly.
"I don't think people understand that contact lenses are a medical device. They don't understand the potential for complications down the road," said Goodhew. Everything from ulcers to inflamed corneas has been reported, and 25% of the time it could have been prevented.
Here are the 5 mistakes you're making, according to the doctors, that could seriously be harming your eyes.
Mistake #1: Not Changing Your Solution
Chan says that not changing your contact solution night in and night out is like washing your hands in dirty water and expecting them to be clean. The solution is used to disinfect your lenses, but if you keep using the same stuff, the solution gets infected as well. You're just washing your lenses in bacteria. Goodhew recommends that you also wash your lens case once a week. You can just throw it in the dishwasher. And don't EVER use tap water instead of solution. The chlorine could actually change the shape of your lens.
Mistake #2: Wearing Them Too Long
Contacts limit the amount of oxygen your eyes get...which is kind of important. At most, wear your contacts for 12 hours a day. Take them off at night to give your eyes a break and a chance to breathe. If your eyes don't get enough oxygen, excess blood vessels can form which can obscure your vision in the long run. Goodhew says that wearing your contacts for too long can lower your eyes' immunity which makes you more susceptible to infections. Over-wear also just lenses them harder to take out, so in general it's best to stay away from that.
Mistake#3: Not Changing Out Your Contacts in the Recommended Time Frame
If you wear your monthlies for longer than a month, your eyes are exposed to the dirt and proteins that build up on them which leads to irritation. Goodhew says contacts are "like sponges and a biofilm builds on the surface of the lens no matter how clean you keep them." It's basically a party for germs. If you can't keep track of your monthly schedule, switch to dailies. Goodhew says people who use daily lenses have 50% fewer infections.
Mistake #4: Wearing Contact in Pools or While Showering
Just...don't do it. Chan says the lens is essentially like a giant sponge, so when you go in the water it soaks up all the organisms and lets them flourish on your eye. For someone who isn't wearing contacts, the organisms wouldn't have anything to hold on to. If you do wear your contacts in the water, Chan suggests keeping your eyes closed and cleaning your lenses thoroughly afterwards.
Mistake #5: Keeping Your Contacts In Even Thought They Hurt
Why would you do that to yourself? When your contacts hurt, it's for a reason. It could just be a small tear along the edge, or it could be dirt on the lens. If it's dirt and you leave it in, you could be scratching your eye. Especially during allergy season, it's always important to carry a pair of glasses with you. Goodhew warns that if your eyes get red uncomfortable, you need to stop wearing contacts for 24 hours to let your eyes rest up. Don't put yourself through the pain.
You only get one pair of eyes in your lifetime. You should probably take care of them.