Wearing Contacts Safely

Many people choose to make the switch from glasses to contacts. While there can be benefits to this alternative, it is important that you take necessary safety precautions, especially in a time when serious viruses can be transmitted through the eyes.

Throughout his many years in practice, VSP network eye doctor, Wallace Stuart, O.D. has helped ensure patients are properly prepped to apply contacts sanitarily using these important steps. He shared with us the marching orders he gives new contact lens wearers:

Wash away. The cardinal rule for staying healthy is to wash your hands often. The eyes are an entry point for germs, including viruses like Coronavirus, which makes washing your hands immediately before handling contacts especially important. This will also help keep the silicone hydrogel clean and free of unwelcome particles, like skin oils, dust, and harmful bacteria. The American Optometric Association recommends that you scrub your hands carefully and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, followed by hand drying with unused paper towels. This should occur before every contact lens insertion and removal. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Ditch the dirt. Dirt for contact lenses comes in the form of protein build-up and other eye and environmental “muck.” Routine cleaning only lasts so long. So, at the designated times, toss your contacts and use a fresh pair. They’re classified as “disposable” for a reason.

Not at night. If your contacts aren’t the overnight-approved, extended wear variety, don’t treat them that way. Daily contacts need nightly soaks to be properly cleansed and disinfected. A morning routine for contact lens wearers should include a simple rinse with fresh solution before putting them in your eyes.

No to nails. Only your fingertips should touch your contacts. Fingernails can easily rip the delicate contact lens material. If you wear your nails long, find another technique to retrieve the contacts from the container before transferring them to your finger. The soft disinfected tip of a medicine dropper can do the trick.

Refuse to reuse. This is one instance where recycling is a hard no. Never reuse contact lens solution. Ever. Use fresh stuff every night. Contact lens wearers should throw out their daily disposable lenses each evening, or regularly disinfect their monthly and two-week lenses according to instructions from the manufacturer and their Doctor of Optometry.

Forget the fumes. Whenever you can, avoid wearing contacts when you’re surrounded by irritating or toxic fumes. For example, wear your glasses for hair-dying occurrences or oven cleaning.

Cease if sick. Consistent with recommendations for other types of illness, those who feel sick with cold or flu-like symptoms should stop wearing their contacts until fully recovered.

Banish beauty-aids. Well, around your contacts anyway. Keep soaps, lotions, cosmetics, perfumes and other self-care products away from your contacts.
If you feel any discomfort, blurry vision or have concerns after contact lens application, remove your lenses and consult your eye care professional. As always, if you have additional questions about best practices for wearing contacts, contact your eye doctor.

Schedule your eye exam with an eye doctor and order contacts directly from their office. If you have your RX and prefer to shop online, use your VSP insurance to order your contacts on Eyeconic.com.

For more information about wearing contacts safely, look to the American Optometric Association. You can find general information about COVID-19 safety at the Centers for Disease and Control and updates and resources for VSP Members here.

Article ©2020 Vision Service Plan. All rights reserved. Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited. This article was originally published at https://www.vsp.com/eyewear-wellness/lasik-glasses-lenses/contact-lens-care