Written by Dr. Shaista Vally, OD, as part of an ongoing series about eye care.
We all love the freedom of contact lenses: They don’t fog up if we step outside, they don’t slide off our noses when we bend over and they don’t need constant adjusting. But like all freedoms, lenses come with responsibility. They can pose a serious health risk if they’re not worn properly.
What are the health risks of contact lenses?
The biggest risk to your eye from using contact lenses is infection, which can lead to a scar-forming ulcer and in turn to an irreversible loss of vision. Other possible risks include new blood vessel growth and inflammation and swelling of exposed surfaces (under eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva). With correct care and management, these risks can be greatly lowered and prevented.
General rules to follow
Infections and other health risks can usually be avoided by properly caring for your contacts:
- Wash your hands prior to handling your lenses.
- Never wear torn or ripped lenses.
- Don’t sleep in your lenses.
- Don’t wear lenses longer than 10-12 hours.
- Never expose the lens to water.
- Replace lens cases every 2-3 months.
- Use fresh disinfectant solution every night.
- Clean and air dry cases during the day.
- Contact your eye doctor if you have signs of eye redness, irritation, a change in vision, light sensitivity or pain.
Your eyes are sensitive and important organs. For contact lens wearers, protect your eyes by taking care of your contacts.