Disinfecting Contact Lenses
Contact lenses bring the gift of sight to many people that may not be able to see otherwise. While these tiny lenses are a powerful tool in providing vision, they do need to be used with caution. If you wear contact lenses it is very important to properly disinfect them. Taking care of your contacts is just as important as taking care of your eyes.
Why is disinfection necessary?
Anything that goes into your eye can cause infection or irritation if it isnít clean. Contact lenses are no different. If they arenít properly disinfected they can cause infection, irritation and at times even more serious eye problems. Dirty contacts can also reduce your eyeís access to oxygen and can make your contacts work less effectively leading to poor vision. Your contacts are exposed to many potential contaminants each day throughout regular use such as dirt, makeup, proteins, bacteria, smoke and oils.
When do contacts need to be disinfected?
Your contacts should be cleaned each and every time they are removed and again before they are reinserted into the eye. As a general rule all contacts should be disinfected daily, even if they are designed to be worn overnight. Since disposable contacts are thrown out after each use, they do not need to be disinfected.
Methods available for disinfection
There are a couple of different ways to disinfect contacts. Most commonly you will find that your eye doctor recommends chemical disinfection, although some prefer thermal disinfection. Since your eye doctor knows your eyes and the type of lenses that you use, make sure that you talk with them about the best way to keep your contacts clean. Letís look at each of the methods in a little more detail.
Chemical disinfection uses a variety of different chemical solutions to clean the contact lenses. To use this method you will need cleaning solutions as well as a contact case. Start the process with clean hands that you have thoroughly washed with soap and warm water.
When disinfecting contacts it is best to do one lens at a time. This way you will easily know which lens is which and wonít accidentally mix up your left and right contacts. Remove your contact lens and gently place it in the palm of your hand. Form a cup with your hand to allow you to apply solution to the lens without losing it. Then use the daily cleansing solution and one finger to gently rub the contact. Next you will place the lens on your finger and rinse it clean using a sterile saline solution. Place it into your contact lens case in the spot for the corresponding lens and fill the case with disinfectant solution. Repeat the process with your other lens. Preferably your contacts should sit overnight before it is reinserted. Make sure that you rinse off the disinfectant solution with a sterile saline solution before you place the contact back in your eye.
Thermal disinfection follows the same process as chemical disinfection, but once the lens is stored in the case adds an element of heat to further sanitize the contact lenses. The use of heat allows the contacts to be cleaned much more quickly and is an ideal choice if you canít wait overnight for the disinfecting solution to start working. If you use this method make sure that you talk with your doctor about the proper procedure and that you keep your lenses on the heat unit for the necessary amount of time.
Other tips for contact lens care
Besides regular cleaning, there are other things that you can do to keep your contacts working their best. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind.
- Always follow the cleaning instructions provided by your doctor - Your eye doctor knows how to best clean your contacts. Make sure that you talk with them about how you are disinfecting your contacts and that you listen to their advice.
- Never pull or tug at your contact - Sometimes your contact lens may get stuck in your case. Rather than pulling on it try replacing the lid and gently shaking the case. This will help to loosen the contact without damaging it.
- Follow all steps in the cleaning process - Many people think that they can skip the step of rubbing their contacts. This step is important to get all the contaminants off your lens. If you do use a no-rub solution make sure that you talk with your doctor to ensure that your lenses are getting properly disinfected.
- Put contacts in before you apply makeup - Makeup can easily get on contacts and can lead to discomfort and infection in your eyes. To avoid this always put your contacts in before you apply any makeup. It is also a good idea to use water based and non-allergenic products. Then remove your contacts before you remove your makeup since makeup removal can lead to getting makeup in the eye.
Learning to use your contacts properly and to keep them clean with lead to better eye health and less discomfort.
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