Eye health is hugely important. You only get one pair of eyes and they can’t be replaced! Nearly 41 million adults in the U.S. (more than one in 10 people) and 125 million people worldwide wear contact lenses, but contact lenses aren’t just for adults. Many children benefit from wearing them as well. In fact, optometrists agree that most children between the ages of 10 and 12 are mature enough to wear and care for contact lenses. In some cases, children even younger than age 10 are ready for independent contact lens wear.
Here are 5 health rules to follow if you wear contacts
1. Get a an annual comprehensive eye exam
Contact lens wearers should have comprehensive eye exams annually, and stay in close contact with their eye doctor to ensure appropriate and up-to-date clinical guidance based on individual eye health needs. Optometrists provide a lifetime of vision care and play a key role in a patient’s total quality of life. Proper vision can affect how well a person functions and succeeds in life. Poor vision has been linked to developmental problems and yearly eye exams are important for eye and vision health. Optometrists are on the frontline of medical eye and vision care and provide a range of services including performing comprehensive eye exams, diagnosing and treating eye diseases, and recognizing symptoms of systemic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Glaucoma runs in my family so an annual eye exam is on the top of my list for eye health.
2. Practice clean and safe handling on your contact lenses
Clean and safe handling of contacts is one of the most important measures to take to protect vision. When patients don’t use lenses as directed by an eye doctor, the consequences can be dangerous, and they can even damage the eyes, potentially causing long-term problems with vision and eye health. Again, you only get one pair of eyes, so you need to be diligent.
3. Clean and rinse your contacts with proper solutions
Cleaning and rinsing lenses with proper contact lens solutions is important to remove mucus, secretions, films, or deposits that can build up during wearing and lead to bacterial growth. The American Optometric Association recommends contact lens wearers maintain a consistent hygiene routine, including:
- Washing and drying hands before handling contact lenses;
- Carefully and regularly using cleaning solution to rub the lenses with fingers and rinsing thoroughly before soaking lenses overnight in a sufficient multi-purpose disinfectant solution;
- Storing lenses in the proper lens storage case and replacing your case every three months; in addition cases should be rubbed with clean fingers, rinsed with solution, dried with a tissue, and stored upside down every night;
- Using fresh solution to clean and store contact lenses—never re-use old solution;
- Using products recommended by your eye doctor to clean and disinfect your lenses; and
- Removing contact lenses before exposing them to water.
I love the daily wear contact lenses. I can eliminate the cleaning and rinsing mess because they are disposable.
4. Do not wear your contact lenses for longer than suggested by the manufacturer
- According to the American Optometric Association’s 2015 American Eye-Q® Survey, more than half (59 percent) of Americans wear disposable contact lenses longer than the suggested duration. This bad habit can cause permanent eye damage from bacterial infections and oxygen deprivation.
5. Do not use illegally purchased decorative costume contact lenses
Optometrists are increasingly concerned about the illegal sale and use of decorative or non-corrective contact lenses, which are still classified as medical devices and pose the same potential safety and health risks as corrective contact lenses.
- Often times, decorative contact lenses are acquired illegally through street vendors, flea markets, or beauty supply stores without an eye doctor’s prescription and guidance. When purchased illegally, these contact lenses often don’t meet quality and safety standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Decorative contact lens wearers who don’t follow the guidelines for use and wear can experience symptoms such as blurred or fuzzy vision; red or irritated eyes; pain in and around the eyes or, a more serious condition where the cornea becomes inflamed, also known as keratitis. These problems can lead to significant damage to the eye’s ability to function, and even irreversible sight loss.
- I got awesome red vampire lenses one year for Halloween, but I got a prescription for them and ordered them the right way. I can’t imagine getting a shady pair of contacts and them putting them in my eyes. Yuck!
About the American Optometric Association
The American Optometric Association (AOA) represents approximately 39,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students, and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities, they are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States. To learn more, visit the AOA online.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.