Healthy Habits For Contact Lens Wear
As teens head back to school, reinforcing proper contact lens wear and care can promote good vision and healthy eyes throughout the school year and throughout life. Young people are among the core audiences that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is striving to reach during its second-annual Contact Lens Health Week, taking place Aug. 24-28 with the theme “Healthy Habits Mean Healthy Eyes.”
In fact, the Food and Drug Administration estimates that 30 million Americans wear contact lenses; two-thirds of them female, according to the American Optometric Association. The average age of contact lens wearers worldwide is 31 years old; while nationally, 10 percent of contact lens wearers are under 18 years old.
Besides seeing well, other benefits of wearing contact lenses include feeling well, for those who prefer not to wear glasses; and playing well during sports and other more rigorous activities, the CDC notes. However, failure to wear, clean and store contact lenses as directed by an eye doctor raises the risk of developing serious infections and other complications.
Contact lens wear is linked to higher risk of keratitis, or inflammation of the cornea, the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye. Other complications can include allergies; Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis, bumps that appear underneath the eyelid; corneal abrasion; Contact Lens-induced Acute Red Eye (CLARE), red, irritated eyes; corneal infiltrates, irritation of the cornea indicating inflammation and possible infection; dry eyes; neovascularization, new blood vessels growing onto the cornea, sometimes causing eye redness.
To keep eyes healthy, good habits, proper supplies and the guidance of an eye doctor all are essential. The CDC recommends the following:
► Wash hands with soap and water. Dry them well with a clean cloth before touching the contact lenses every time.
► Don’t sleep in your contact lenses unless prescribed to do so by an eye doctor.
► Keep water away from contact lenses. Avoid showering in contact lenses, and remove them before using a hot tub or swimming.
► Rub and rinse contact lenses with contact lens disinfecting solution — never water or saliva — to clean them each time you remove them.
► Never store contact lenses in water.
► Replace contact lenses as often as prescribed by an eye doctor.
► Rub and rinse the contact lens case with contact lens solution — never water — and then empty and dry with a clean tissue. Store upside down with the caps off after each use.
► Replace the contact lens case at least once every three months.
► Don’t “top off” solution. Use only fresh contact lens solution in the case — never mix fresh solution with old or used solution.
► Use only the contact lens solution recommended by an eye doctor.
Your Eye Doctor
Visit an eye doctor yearly or as often as he or she recommends.
If you have questions about how to care for contact lenses and the case, ask an eye doctor.
Remove contact lenses immediately and call an eye doctor if you have eye pain, discomfort, redness or blurred vision.