Looking After Your Lenses and Your Eyes
Soft contact lenses may be worn during the day (daily wear), and either thrown away each day (daily disposables) or disinfected and re-used.Some contact lenses can be used on an “extended wear” basis where they are worn overnight.
Daily disposable lenses
With daily disposable lenses, no cleaning and disinfection is required after wear since the lenses are worn only once and thrown away. Do not re-use these lenses since disinfecting solution will not be available and they are unsuitable for repeated use.Wearing daily disposables does not decrease the importance of regular check-ups.
Frequent Replacement lenses
As well as daily disposables, most other Soft contact lenses are also designed to be replaced regularly so that they never get covered in surface deposits that may cause allergy or encourage infection. Acuvue (Johnson & Johnson) lenses such as Oasys and Advance are normally replaced twice monthly while many other manufacturers replace lenses every month. Frequent replacement lenses require cleaning and disinfection evey time they are worn.
Extended wear lenses
Extended wear lenses are designed for overnight wear and can be continuously worn for up to a week or a month at a time before being discarded.Your optician will advise you on how to look after the lenses if you have to remove them during this time. You may need to attend check-ups more frequently if you wear this type of lens.Never switch the type of lens or solution you use except on the advice of your practitioner.Contact lenses can only be fitted by or under the supervision of a registered optometrist, qualified dispensing optician or medical practitioner.Regular aftercare check-ups, at intervals specified by your practitioner, are essential to ensure that your eyes remain healthy and that you are using the best lenses for your particular needs.Contact lenses are constantly improving, so even if you have been unsuccessful with them in the past it is worth trying again. Today almost all those who need vision correction and want to wear contact lenses can do so.
Keep Your Lenses Clean
Research studies have shown a slightly increased risk of eye infection associated with contact lens wear when compared with no lens wear. Sleeping with your lenses in carries a higher risk than taking them out each night, although new highly permeable silicone hydrogel lenses may carry a lower risk than traditional extended wear lenses. Rigid gas permeable lenses have an extremely low incidence of infection.Many eye infections can be sourced to the lens case used and poor looking after your contact lenses. Disposable contact lenses must be thrown away after the period advised to prevent eye infection and allergies to the "build-up" on the lens surfaces. Lens cases must be replaced regularly (often every month) and lens cleaning/disinfection regimes followed properly.
For lenses that are re-used, rather than worn once and discarded, the following guidance applies:After removing your contact lenses make sure you disinfect them. This prevents harmful organisms building up on the lens.At your contact lens consultation we will advise you of the best contact lens system and care regime for your type of lenses. This may include additional cleaning procedures, such as rubbing or rinsing.Disinfection involves soaking your lenses in solution in a storage case for a specific period of time. Never re-use disinfecting solution or top up; it must be discarded and replaced with fresh solution each time the lenses are stored. Only use the care products recommended by your practitioner and follow the instructions carefully.Rinse your storage case, leave it open to dry after use each day, and replace monthly. A dirty case is a major source of infection. Clean the storage case using a clean toothbrush and contact lens solution on a weekly basis.Always wash your hands thoroughly and use a lint-free cloth to dry them.Remove a lens and place it in the palm of you hand.Add a small amount of all-in-one solution and gently rub the lens in a circularmotion for a few seconds to remove any deposits.Rinse the lens, place in a clean case and add some all-in-one solution.Replace the lid and the lenses will be ready for the next time you wear them.
Useful tips for contact lens care
The following tips apply to all contact lens types:Always:
- wash, rinse and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses
- have an up-to-date pair of glasses for when you need to remove your lenses replace the lenses at the interval specified by your practitioner
- have regular check-ups with your practitioner as recommended
- seek professional advice if you are having problems with your contact lenses.
Ask yourself these three important questions each day that you wear your lenses:
- Do my eyes look good?
- Do my eyes feel good?
- Do I see well?
If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to all of these, or you have any other doubts concerning your contactlenses, remove your lenses immediately and seek the advice of your contact lens practitioner.Never:
- go to bed with a painful red eye – seek advice immediately
- bring any contact lens into contact with tap water
- wet your lenses with saliva
- wear your lenses for swimming (unless you use goggles) or showering.
You can get more information about contact lenses at the British Contact Lens Association.