If you've recently made the transition from glasses to contact lenses, you may still be getting used to the many differences between these two vision correction methods.
While contacts can provide a number of advantages over glasses, from an increase in peripheral vision to the ability to step outside on a cold day without being temporarily blinded by foggy lenses, they also have some potential drawbacks, especially for those who are new to contact lens care.
Read on for three tips to help you keep your contact lenses (and, as a result, your eyes) in top shape.
Wear Eye Protection in Dusty, Dirty Environments
Although vision-correcting glasses aren't equivalent to safety glasses, they do provide your eyes with some measure of physical protection against dust, dirt, and flying objects.
Contacts, on the other hand, can sometimes trap tiny particles beneath their surface, irritating your eyes. If these particles are large or abrasive enough, they can sometimes even scratch your cornea, which requires regular application of an antibiotic ointment for a couple of weeks to prevent infection and speed the healing process.
By wearing safety glasses or another form of eye protection when you're doing yard work, cleaning out a dusty basement, or walking through a warehouse, you'll be able to keep your eyes clean and safe.
Wash Your Hands Before Handling Contacts
Just as you wouldn't want to stick your hands in your mouth without washing them, using a dirty fingertip to place a contact lens in your eye can be a quick path toward an ocular infection.
Your eyes (along with your nose, mouth, and other orifices) constitute the few parts of your body that aren't protected by a layer of skin. Because of this, they can be ultra-vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections, even without the use of contacts.
Failing to wash your hands with soap and water before putting in your contacts (or putting in your contacts without thoroughly disinfecting them) may lead to vision complications.
Use a Peroxide Solution to Remove Bacteria and Protein
There's no single "right" contact solution; the best contact solution for you will depend on your specific vision needs, any allergies, and your budget. But in general, the use of a two-step or two-stage cleaning process that utilizes hydrogen peroxide is a better way to get your contacts clean than a "no rub" or single-stage solution.
These no-rub solutions are primarily saline, with some added ingredients designed to dissolve protein and bacteria that can accumulate on the contact lens surface. But studies have shown that these solutions don't always kill all bacteria. In fact, one class-action lawsuit against a contact lens manufacturer alleged that one type of this lens cleaning solution allowed users to contract a serious and potentially blinding eye infection called acanthamoeba keratitis.
Hydrogen peroxide is widely viewed as one of the most safe and effective ways to ensure your contact lenses are sterile. Because hydrogen peroxide can be quite painful when applied directly to the eye, these solutions rely on either the use of a neutralizing tablet or a specially-designed contact lens case to, over the course of a few hours, turn this peroxide solution into harmless saline water.
Be sure to pay attention to the timeline included in your lens solution's instructions. Most peroxide solutions will caution users not to attempt to re-insert their contacts for at least 6 to 8 hours after they've been placed in the solution. Once this point has passed, you can insert your contacts at any time, whether immediately or even days later.
Switching from glasses to contact lenses can be a life-changing (and vision-changing) experience. Following these three contact care tips and the advice of your ophthalmologist should put you on the path to a bright, clear future.