Here is a quick summary of how to keep your soft contact lens experience comfortable and your vision clear while continuing to look after the health of your eyes!
Daily lenses are meant to be worn once and thrown away and monthly lenses are designed for a month’s worth (30 days) of wear before being replaced. It can be helpful to mark in your diary/calendar when you first opened a new pair of lenses so you can keep track of how old they are. Do not sleep with your lenses in unless your optometrist has advised that this is acceptable in your brand of lenses. Over-wearing of your contact lenses puts you at greater risk of adverse contact lens-related events, such as infections that could blind the affected eye!
(Not applicable for Daily Disposables). Only use appropriate, recommended contact lens cleaning solution and use fresh solution every time (this means tipping out the old solution, not just topping it up). Cover the lenses completely in solution and replace your contact lens case every three months. It is advisable to rub your lenses even if the solution says ‘no rub’ as this removes built-up proteins, making the lenses more comfortable for longer and decreases the risk of infection and inflammation. You wouldn’t wash a dinner plate by just rinsing it under a tap, so why would you just rinse something you are putting in your eye?
Patients that wear their soft lenses during sleep put themselves at more risk of infection because the contact lenses do not get cleaned as frequently. If you cannot remove your lenses each night for sleep, at least plan to remove them weekly to give them a good clean and eliminate the bacteria and protein building up on your lenses. Monthly silicone-hydrogel lenses recommended by your optometrist are the only soft lens that should be worn overnight.
Not all solutions are created equal and changing between them may give more irritation due to different preservatives or they may not condition your type of contact lens as effectively. Try to keep using the solution your optometrist recommends. Solutions are always available in the practice or can be purchased at our online shop here.
Before inserting or removing your contacts. If you wear make-up it is advisable to put your lenses in before applying make-up, and to remove your make-up before taking out your lenses. This helps to prevent getting make-up on your contacts.
Red eyes are not happy eyes. Do not wear your lenses if your eyes are red, irritated, sore, or have any discharge. If you accidentally sleep in your contact lenses it is best to have a day of wearing them to allow the eyes to recover. If you are wearing your lenses and your eye becomes irritated, remove the lenses immediately. If the symptoms do not stop, you may have an infection and you need to see your optometrist urgently for appropriate treatment.
Contact lenses are a great alternative to glasses but should not be your only form of optical correction. If your eye is red or sore you should not wear your contacts until they are 100% better. If you are unwell with a cold or flu it is best to give the eyes a break from contact lens wear. These situations are where you will need those back-up glasses so you can still go about your daily life. Not having a pair of back-up glasses may also mean you are tempted to overwear your contact lenses which puts your eyes are risk of inflammatory events or infection.
Yearly eye exams when you wear contact lenses are higly recommended. This is to ensure that your lenses are still fitting well and not causing any damage – some contact lens complications have no symptoms. It is also to check that your vision is as good as it can be, and that these particular lenses are still appropriate for your needs.
Do not use any product that is past its expiry date. It is a good idea to mark the date of opening on your bottle of solution so that you know when it needs to be thrown out. Most solutions don’t keep for more than 3 months once opened – this is because the preservatives start breaking down so the solution is no longer guaranteed to disinfect your lenses.
This is common when the lenses have been in your eyes for 10+ hours, especially if you are in an air-conditioned or dusty/windy environment. Lubricating drops (such as Hylo-Fresh and Hylo-Forte) are a simple solution. Make sure your solution is contact lens compatible and if unsure check with your optometrist first. Some modern-day disinfection solutions such as AoSept Plus with Hydraglyde have components to help maintain moist lenses throughout the day. New contact lenses types are released every year with new technology to keep your lenses moist for longer. Ask your optometrist about these new products and if they are suitable for you.
First take your lens out and check that it is in the correct way (bowl shape). If you have a toric contact lens (for astigmatism), try to get the markings lined up correctly. Check the lens for signs of damage such as chips or scratches – if there is damage throw it out and use a new lens. Dust may be trapped beneath the lens: try to drag the lens onto the white of the eye then back, as this can often roll the debris out without the need to remove the lens itself.
At the end of the day the lens is not as well hydrated, so put a drop of artificial tears into both eyes, blink a few times, and try to remove the lens again. If difficulties persist it may be a good idea to have your optometrist or contact lens assistant review your technique to see if this could be improved.