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Dr. Marc Weinstein

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What's the typical reaction of people who need to get contact lenses?

They check for suitable contact lenses, alluring colors, and affordable price ranges. It is however rare to find people who try to research the best way to care for their contacts. Don't get it twisted, people take proper maintenance measures. However, try comparing the number of people who use these lenses to those who are deliberate about proper lens care. You'll find out the margin is disappointingly wide. While some are quite ignorant, others knowingly indulge in some rather dangerous contact usage habits. Some of these are;

·       Using expired contact solutions

·       Using unapproved lubricants or red-eye drops

·       Applying or taking out contacts without washing your hands

·       Rinsing contacts with tap water

·       Cleaning contacts with used solutions

·       Storing your contacts in dirty cases

·       Using a contact case for more than three months

·       Failing to wash and air-dry your contact case

·       Using contact lenses after they have had contact with dirty surfaces like bathroom floors

·       Using lenses in a bathtub

·       Sleeping with lenses on

Habits like this are not only bad, they also have dangerous consequences. For example, it has been reported that people who sleep with contacts are 6 to 8 times more likely to contract eye infections.

Also, cleaning lenses with old solutions or mixing old and new solutions reduces the power of the solution to kill bacteria and disinfect the contacts properly.

Furthermore, wearing poor contact care has been linked to Keratitis. Microbial keratitis is a serious eye infection caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. In its serious stages, keratitis could lead to blindness or require a corneal transplant. Thus, it must be emphasized that improper contact care exposes the eyes to germs which in turn cause infections like Keratitis.

This is why subjects like proper lens care must be constantly discussed. The benefits of proper lens care cannot be overemphasized. While they strengthen the durability of the lens, they also preserve your optical health.

How long is too long?

Over wearing contact lenses is another habit that is common among contact users. More often than not, people over-wear contacts because they don't know how long becomes too long.

The life span of contacts differs according to their types or designs. For example, the soft lens is mostly designed to last for a day, two weeks, or a month before they are disposed. There is a misconception that most people have with contacts and wear time. When a doctor says your contact lens is to last for 1 month, he doesn't mean that the contacts become useless in exactly one month. He means that if the amount of time you spend with the lens on could sum up to a month's worth of time, then your contract is due for replacement.

Another point to note is that your contacts won't wink at you when they are due for replacement (not like they can). They hardly ever give any hints. They don't change color, get blurry or change the texture. However, once lengths are due for a change, they begin to pile up protein and deposits. This would reduce the amount of oxygen your eyes should get. Once your eyes don't get enough oxygen, they are exposed to infection and chronic inflammation, and redness. They could also begin to grow blood vessels all of which may result in contact lens intolerance or total blindness.

Interestingly, you don't have to wear an expired lens for long before the deed is done. One day after expiration is just enough to affect your eyes! Of course, you love your eyes. This is why you shouldn't hope that your lens would give you a heads up when it's time to change it. Make sure to set a reminder on your phone or mark your calendar on the day your replacement will be due.

Another side to over-wearing contact is keeping it on for too long. While some people can keep in contact for about 14 to 16 hours, others may not be able because their eyes are dry. Either way, it is advisable to take your contacts off every evening before going to bed. This exposes your eyes to more oxygen and reduces the tendencies of infections caused by contacts.

While the FDA approves some contacts for use while sleeping (extender wear), it is always advisable to take them off regardless.  Also, contact lenses can be alternated with glasses to enable the eyes to breathe better.

Call the doctor!

Another significant aspect of eye care is paying proper attention to your eyes. There are certain symptoms you shouldn't brush aside when you notice. This is because such negligence could lead to complications that could have been avoided. Thus, it is advisable to consult an optician when you notice any of the following symptoms

·       Dryness or itchiness of the eyes

·       Redness of the eyes

·       Eye discharge

·       Aches

·       Blurry vision or poor focus

·       Sensitivity to light

·       Spots, flashes, and floaters

In conclusion, contacts are either recommended for eye health or good looks. But improper contact care would not aid any of the purposes for which contacts were created. If anything, it hinders the lens from doing its magic on your looks. If it was recommended for your health, then improper contact care adds salt to injury! Thus, you must pay attention to proper contact care.