Is Your Lens Care up to Scratch? Take Our Contact Lens Care Quiz!
How would you rate your contact lens care? Are you worthy of a 10 out of 10, a perfect hygiene rating? How about a little lower? A 7 out of 10? Maybe a 5 out of 10 in a particularly hectic week?
About 41 million Americans wear contact lenses. And roughly 85% of us admit to at least one bad contact lens behavior that increases our risk of infection. Very few can honestly say they’re performing at the top of their contact lens care game.
What are these bad contact lens behaviors? And are you putting your eyes at risk of an infection without even realizing?
Take our contact lens care quiz and find out!
Question 1: Is It Okay to Clean Your Contact Lenses With Water if You’ve Run out of Contact Lens Solution?
Answer: If you run out of contact lens solution, it's harmless to clean your lenses with water as a one-off, right? No. You should never clean your contact lenses with water. You might be surprised to hear it, but it is not safe to expose your contact lenses to water. Not ever!
Water contains many impurities including a particularly dangerous germ called Acanthamoeba. Introducing this germ to your eye can lead to Acanthamoeba keratitis, a painful eye infection that can cause blindness.
Cleaning (or even rinsing) your contacts with water can also cause them to swell, change shape and stick to your eyes. Trust us. Contact lenses and water never mix!
Question 2: Is It Okay to Wear Contact Lenses Past Their Expiry Date?
Answer: No. Expiry dates exist for a reason! Contact lenses are sealed in packaging that contains a sterile contact lens solution. The contact lens manufacturers cannot guarantee that the lenses are safe to wear past this date.
It’s possible that the packaging disintegrates, leading to contaminated lenses and solution.
Did you know that contact lens solution also expires? When that happens, its ph balance becomes unstable. This means that the solution becomes too acidic or too alkaline. Lenses stored in expired solution can irritate the eyes and lead to serious infections.
Question 3: Is It a Bad Idea to Nap in Your Contact Lenses?
Answer: Yes! When you close your eyes with contacts in, they can’t breathe! Your eyes need to breathe as well!
Your cornea is a thin, transparent film that covers the front of your eye. It does not have blood vessels. So your cornea gets the oxygen it needs by absorbing it from the air while you’re awake. When you sleep, your cornea gets its oxygen via the moisture in your eye.
If you wear contact lenses while sleeping, you make it extra hard for your corneas to get access to that important oxygen. Contacts also trap bacteria and impurities into your closed eyes.
This gives them lots of time to cause irritation and infection. Sleeping in contact lenses increases the risk of microbial/bacterial keratitis by 6 to 8 times. So, take out your contacts even for your power naps!
Question 4: How Long Can You Wear a Pair of Contact Lenses?
Answer: It depends on the type of contact lenses. Some contacts have a weekly or monthly replacement schedule. You must remove these lenses every night, clean them and store them in a solution-filled storage case. The same hygiene routine applies to all reusable contact lenses.
You can also opt for daily disposable lenses. You wear these lenses for a day and discard them every evening. The next morning you would wear a fresh pair.
Daily disposables are convenient, as you don’t have to worry about a cleaning routine. But they can be a little harder on your bank account than reusable lenses.
Question 5: How Often Does the American Optometric Association Recommend You Have an Eye Exam?
Answer: Again, it depends! The AOA recommends that all adults between the ages of 18 and 64 have an eye exam every two years unless advised otherwise.
Kids between 6 and 18 and anyone over 64 should have an annual eye exam. The AOA also recommends that you have an eye exam at 40. This is the point where the early signs of age-related vision diseases or vision changes occur.
Question 6: Can You Buy Contact Lenses Online Without a New Prescription?
Answer: No. Contact lenses are class 2 medical devices and regulated by the FDA as well as the FTC. Any retailer selling contact lenses in the U.S. is required by law to request a current prescription from their buyers. Any retailer willing to sell contact lenses without a prescription, online or otherwise, is breaking the law.
This regulation also applies to colored contact lenses. Your eyes are too important, so never take any chances with them!
Question 7: How Often Should You Clean Your Contacts Storage Case and Change the Solution?
Answer: Every day! Not once per week. Not once per month. You should clean your contacts storage case and change the lens solution every day. It’s important to keep your lenses case and solution fresh and clean.
Your contact lens care routine should include thoroughly cleaning your case every day with fresh lens solution. You should leave the case to air-dry, face-down, caps off, in a low humidity, clean area.
Once you’ve removed and cleaned your contacts after a long day, you’ll have a clean case to store them in.
Similarly, you should store your contacts in fresh lens solution each night. So never top off the old solution! That leaves you vulnerable to dangerous eye infections.
Remember: a dirty case and dirty solution mean dirty contact lenses! Keep everything hygienic every day.
Question 8: How Often Should You Replace Your Contacts Storage Case?
Answer: At least once every three months. But if you notice that your case is cracked, then you must replace it right away.
There is a good reason for this recommended schedule. Your contacts storage case can be a breeding ground for microscopic germs.
Even if you clean and air-dry the case every day as recommended, using an old case is still risky. Infrequent replacement of contact storage cases is linked to serious eye infections. Don’t take that risk for the sake of a few dollars!
Question 9: Can You Take a Shower Wearing Contact Lenses?
Answer: No. As we’ve already explained, water and contact lenses do not mix! Plus if you’re in the shower you have the added complication of shampoo to think of!
Getting shampoo, soap or any other cosmetic in your eyes while wearing contacts is painful. You could end up with major eye irritation at a minimum. We recommend taking out your contacts before any sort of external waterworks!
Question 10: How Long Should You Wait Before Removing Your Contacts if You Experience Any Discomfort?
Answer: A day or two? A week, maybe? Absolutely not! If you experience any pain, redness or blurred vision, then you should remove your contact lenses immediately.
Next, make an appointment to see your optometrist as soon as possible. It may be that your eye discomfort is a simple case of dryness or irritation. But, many eye diseases have similar early symptoms, so err on the side of caution.
It’s always worth it to get your eyes checked if you feel any discomfort. It’s your sight we’re talking about, after all!
How Was It?
So, how did you do? Passed with flying colors? Great! If not, no worries. You can put everything you now know about contact lens care into practice. Your eyes will thank you, as your risk of an infection disappears.
For more information on contact lens care, speak to your eye doctor.