Contact lens safety depends on the wearer following the prescribed lens wear schedule and cleaning regime.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes three key areas to healthy contact lens wear:
1. Healthy contact lens hygiene habits
Always wash your hands with soap and water before inserting and removing the contact lenses
Replace your contact case at least every 3 months.
2. Proper use, care and storage of contact lenses and supplies
Don’t sleep in your contact lenses. Sleeping in contact lenses increases the chance of an eye infection 6 to 8 times.
Replace your contact lenses as prescribed
Rinse out your contact lens case every morning, turn upside down and allow to air dry.
3. Regular visits to the optometrist
Contact lens materials and solutions change as do our eyes. To maintain good vision and healthy eyes have an eye examination every year.
Established contact lens wearers tend to have higher levels of case contamination compared to new contact lens wearers. Poor contact lens habits develop over time, don’t become compliant, remember the details of good contact lens care to ensure your continued successful contact lens use.
Contact lenses are an amazing medical device. When treated well and respectively you can count on years of successful wear.
Contact lens wear is quite safe as long as proper lens and storage case care are followed. Improper lens wear and care can put the lens wearer at risk for serious consequences. Sight-threatening microbial keratitis (corneal ulcer) is the most significant adverse event associated with contact lens wear and is largely preventable.
Single-use or daily disposable soft lenses are prescribed to be worn once and discarded. This is the safest soft lens wearing modality because no lens cleaning, lens care or storage case is required.
The contact lens storage case is the most likely potential reservoir for contact lens related ocular infections. Contact lens cases are not meant to be family heirlooms. Replace the case at least every 3 months.
Not much thought goes towards the contact lens case. But this little keeper of contact lenses can harbor microbes and oils that contaminate the contact lenses. Dirty contact lens cases make for dirty contact lenses, increasing the chance of blur, discomfort and infection of the eyes.
A recent study in Australia showed that the manufacturer’s recommendation of rinsing with multi-purpose contact lens solution and air drying is not enough. The most effective technique to remove the most bacteria was to rinse and wipe the case with a tissue before air drying.
I have always advocated dumping the contact lens solution every morning and rinsing the case with hot water then air drying. I am now adding the use of multi-purpose solution (MPS) instead of water and wiping with a tissue as well. For soft contact lens wearers, using the MPS to rinse instead of water is safer. For rigid gas permeable wearers, hot water is still indicated. (the soaking solutions are too viscous to be effective).
Contact lens case care (soft lenses)
1. Dump solution
2. Rinse with multi-purpose solution
3. Wipe with a tissue
4. Air dry
Contact lens case care (rigid gas permeable lenses)
1. Dump out solution
2. Rinse in hot water
3. Wipe with a tissue
4. Air dry
And the final step to maintaining a clean contact lens case it to replace it regularly.