Contact lenses are convenient vision tools. They are an alternative to glasses that let you see comfortably, without issues of fogging up or sliding from your face. However, they are not free from flaws.
Whether you are new to contacts or have had them for years, the risk of eye infection is always a looming threat. So yes, people who wear contacts are more prone to getting eye infections.
But this should not discourage you from wearing contact lenses. Below you will find information on preventing eye infections due to contact lenses. Additionally, you will learn the steps to take when you get an eye infection.
But first, have you ever wondered why people who wear contact lenses are more prone to infections? This is because when you wear contacts or take them out, you expose yourself to germs and bacteria.
The hands carry a lot of germs and bacteria. Even when you wash your hands, they may still harbor some bacteria that you can spread to your eyes. Other reasons why people with contacts develop eye infections include:
- Sleeping in contacts
- Reusing contact lens solution
- Topping off used lens solution
- Stretching the lifespan of contact lenses
- Effects of herpes virus
- Not keeping contact lens cases clean
Eye Infection From Contact Lenses
The most common eye infections you can develop from contact lenses include:
- Keratitis. It is a cornea infection that causes blurred vision, redness, and pain. The disease causes inflammation of the cornea.
- Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis. It is an infection of the eyeball and inner eyelid. It causes inflammation, plus redness, itching, and tearing of the eyes.
The key symptoms of contacts-related eye infections are:
- Blurry vision
- Pain, especially when putting in or taking out your contacts
- Sticky or crusty discharge from the eyes
- Itching and burning
- Irritation from feeling like something is in your eye
- Sensitivity to light
When you notice one or more of these symptoms, you should stop wearing your contacts immediately. Then, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist to diagnose and treat the infection. Some infections, such as keratitis, can cause vision loss if left untreated. Therefore, you need to act quickly.
Tips to Prevent Contact Lens Related Infections
1. Keep lenses sterile.
The first thing you can do to prevent eye infections from contacts is to keep them sterile and clean at all times. Ensuring that your contact lens case is tightly closed will keep bacteria from passing through.
If you are out of lens solution, do not use tap water because it contains a lot of bacteria that could infect your eyes. Instead, get a lens solution as there is no suitable substitute.
While keeping your lenses sterile, ensure that you also wash them thoroughly after accidents to prevent infections. When you pick up a rogue lens, douse and soak it in a lens solution before putting it in your eye.
2. Wash your hands constantly.
Secondly, you need to keep your hands as clean as possible. Dirty hands will spread bacteria and germs to your contact lenses. When you put them into your case, your hands will deposit these contaminants into your eyeball, leading to infections.
Always clean your hands before putting in and taking out your contact lenses. Pay attention to your fingertips as these hold the lens. Do not forget to scrub under the fingernails because they harbor a lot of debris.
If you drop the contact, wash your hands and clean the lens with solution before putting it back in. Also, avoid wearing gloves or other coverings when putting in the contacts.
3. Take off contacts before sleeping.
Experts will give you a recommended timeline for wearing your contact lenses. Take this recommendation seriously, as over wearing them could irritate and put you at risk of infections.
Additionally, always take out your contacts before sleeping. The problem with sleeping in your contacts is that your eyes will receive less oxygen. The antioxidative stress puts your eyes at risk of inflammation and infection.
Furthermore, you need to take them out when swimming and showering. Water is not suitable for your contacts because water has bacteria and other microorganisms that cause infection. Even chlorinated water could put you at risk of infection. Therefore, keep the lenses out of your eyes when there’s water involved.
4. Do not reuse your contact lens solution.
Many people reuse their contact lens solution after one wash or storage. Others also top it off instead of using a fresh solution. However, experts discourage any reusing and topping off. It might seem wasteful, but it protects you from infections.
Reusing or topping off your solution could encourage bacteria and contaminant build-up. You risk eye infections trying to save some cash. Just use a fresh solution after every cleaning or storage to prevent infections.
Daily contact lenses are also an option if you prefer not to fuss with cases and solutions. These contacts are used once and thrown out at the end of the day, so there is no need to store or clean them in solution. Most contact lens wearers can have daily contact lenses prescribed after examination by a doctor.
5. Follow replacement schedules.
Replacement schedules are more than a recommendation; they are designed to prevent infections and ensure that you have great vision at all times. Unfortunately, some people skip the recommended replacement schedules for lenses and cases.
However, in a bid to save money, you stand at risk of eye infection. Therefore, always replace your contacts per the recommended time. Additionally, you need to get a new case every few months. If you get an eye infection, get a new case immediately.
6. Put on makeup after wearing contacts.
And finally, makeup on your lenses can cause inflammation which could develop into an infection. But you do not have to give up your makeup routine. Just wear your contacts, then put on your makeup.
This order ensures that no makeup gets on your contacts causing an infection. Additionally, you should take out your contacts then take off your makeup to avoid smashing some of it into the eye.
What To Do When You Get An Eye Infection
When you notice symptoms of eye infections, take off your contacts immediately. Clean them with a fresh lens solution and purchase a new storage case. Then schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist to get a diagnosis and treatment.
During this time, use glasses for vision to prevent getting migraines. Additionally, avoid wearing eye makeup until the infection clears. Also, do not go swimming or participate in activities that could irritate the eyes.
Finally, wear sunglasses to aid light sensitivity, and clean your eyes as recommended by the doctor.