If you’re one of the more than 40 million people in the U.S. who wear contacts, you could be making mistakes that lead to eye infections, even vision loss. That’s according to a recent survey undertaken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The survey revealed that 99% of the 1,000 contact lens wearers questioned didn’t follow a proper hygiene routine.
Good contact lens hygiene is crucial
You might not realize that vision can be completely lost due to contact lens-related infections, and most are preventable with proper, hygienic lens care. So here are five important rules that could help you avoid eye infections – or worse.
- When filling your contact lens case, dump the old solution and add new
The CDC survey found that 55% of contact wearers add new solution to existing solution, which is a bad idea. The problem is, bacteria form in your contact lens case, producing a biofilm that literally protects them from being killed by the disinfectant in contact lens solution. So dump, plus rinse and air dry frequently.
- Never sleep in contacts
The CDC survey reported that some 50% of contact wearers sleep in their lenses, which is a bad idea for several reasons: it can create little cuts on your eye, which become openings for bacteria to get into your cornea and cause infection. Sleeping in contacts can also reduce sensation in your cornea, which could increase the chances that you won’t feel the effects of an infection until it’s progressed to a serious stage.
- Don’t use tap water to clean or store contacts
Tap water can contain amoebas and other organisms that can cause a severe, hard to treat corneal infection.
- Don’t wear your contacts in the shower
When water runs down your face, you risk getting germs from tap water into your eyes, which can lead to serious infection.
- Never swim in contact lenses
The presence of amoebas in water, especially fresh water, can cause serious infections and even vision loss.