Are Contacts Bad for Your Eyes?

More than 36 million people are wearing contact lenses the U.S. alone, and you may be one of those contact lens wearers who had to go through a short course in hygiene when you first received your prescription. The drill is simple: wash your hands with soap and water, dry them with a paper towel, and then wear your lenses. Similarly, you have to massage your eyes gently before taking your lenses out to get rid of any debris that might be there. This routine can be a bit annoying sometimes, but it is important to follow every time you wear or take out your lenses. Not doing things correctly can cause irritation to your eyes.

Are Contacts Bad for Your Eyes?

Being in use for decades, contact lenses have become quite popular these days and are generally safe. While you really need to follow your doctor's advice and recommendations, the risk of causing damage to the eye while wearing your lenses is generally low. Still, it is important to avoid wearing your lenses for long, and clean and store them as per your doctor's instructions. Here are certain issues that may arise when you do not wear your lenses properly.

1. Reduced Oxygen Flow

When you wear your lenses, they cover the entire cornea and this may lead to reduced oxygen flow. This in turn may increase the risk of developing certain eye problems over time. Some of the most common complications are eye infection, corneal abrasion, corneal ulcers, and dry eyes. Not seeking immediate medical attention may result in permanent vision loss.

2. Accumulation of Bacteria

You are more likely to develop eye problems when you wear contacts because infection-causing agents can accumulate on the surface of your lenses. This usually happens if your lenses are old and have deposit accumulated on the black surfaces. While eye infections caused by contacts are possible, the risk is quite low, especially considering the fact that only 4 out of 10, 000 daily contact lens wearers end up developing eye infections.

How to Protect Your Eyes with Lenses

Are contacts bad for your eyes? Yes, they can be when not used as per your doctor's instructions. You are usually safe so long as you follow your ophthalmologist's advice. Here is more about protecting your eyes when using contacts.

1. Improve Oxygen Flow

Your eyes need a good oxygen supply to stay healthy. It is important to take some steps to prevent reduced oxygen flow to the eyes because of your contacts.

  • Always stick to the wearing schedule your doctor has recommended and discard contacts after a set limit.
  • Opt for modern silicone hydrogel contact lenses because these soft lenses let more oxygen go to your cornea as compared to conventional soft contacts.
  • Try rigid gas permeable (GP) contacts because they are smaller in size and deliver more oxygen to the eye. These lenses move quite a bit when you blink and allow fresh tears to come under the lenses. This also helps prevent eye problems.

2. Keep Your Contacts Clean

Paying attention to your doctor's advice about cleaning and storing your contact lenses will greatly reduce the risk of developing eye infections and other complications. Never use the contact lens solutions not recommended by your eye doctor. Always talk to your doctor before changing brands. Here are some other steps to take:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling the lenses.
  • Use the recommended solution to clean your lenses.
  • Always clean with the solution after you remove your lenses because this helps remove eye-produced buildup, debris, and cosmetics. Rubbing the lens in the palm of your hand with a few drops of the solution will do.
  • Be sure to rinse your lenses to get rid of any loosened debris.
  • Ensure the lens case is clean and has enough solution to soak the lenses. You should occasionally rinse your lens storage case and add new solution to keep your contacts protected. Get a new storage case every three months to be on the safer side.
  • Use fresh solution whenever you store your lenses. Topping off any solution left in the case from the previous day is not a good idea because it actually makes the solution less effective and even causes lens contamination.

3. Other Tips to Follow

Are contacts bad for your eyes? No if you know how to wear and protect your eyes. Here are some additional tips to help make it even safer to wear contacts:

  • Under no circumstances should you be wearing someone else's contacts or else you may end up developing eye infections.
  • Never sleep without removing your contact lenses – you can sleep with them if you have been prescribed "extended wear" contacts.
  • Ensure the tip of your solution bottles do not touch other surfaces, including eyes, fingers, or contact lenses. This contact can contaminate the solution.
  • Consider wearing sunglasses when going out because contact lenses often make your eyes more sensitive to sunlight.
  • Use a plain saline solution or re-wetting solution to keep your eyes lubricated. Only use the one your doctor has prescribed.
  • Never go swimming with your contacts. Water can cause all sorts of problems. You may consider wearing goggles to keep your eyes and contacts protected when swimming.

Take your contacts out when you develop any eye irritation. It is important that you do not wear them again until you have discussed the problem with your eye doctor. If they are contaminated, you may eventually develop an infection by continually wearing them. Ask your doctor for assistance and change your contacts if they say so.

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