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Safety measures to follow when wearing contact lenses

Gone are the days where myopes had to live with a heavy dependence on their spectacles. Thanks to contact lenses, there’s now the option of going glasses-free, without having to squint just to make out vague shapes.

Be it for convenience or beauty, contacts are an increasingly popular choice these days, with approximately 125 million people wearing them worldwide. But wearing them also comes with many possible safety risks. Here are some precautions to take when wearing contacts, so that you can continue keeping your peepers in optimum condition:


1. It is possible to be allergic to contact lenses – check for signs of irritation

Discontinue the use of contact lenses and consult an eye doctor immediately if you experience redness, itchiness, tearing, or pain on a recurring basis.
These could be symptoms of a passing infection due to poor hygiene, but by a rare chance, you might actually be allergic to your lenses. Until and unless the irritation subsides and you have been properly diagnosed, stick to spectacles to prevent further exacerbating the issue.


2. Coloured lenses are more drying on the eyes than clear lenses

Eye-enlarging lenses with funky colours (eg circle lenses or sclera lenses) can help enhance our features, but the layer of pigment in them makes them less permeable – which means that less oxygen reaches our eyes, making them more prone to dryness. This can cause damage to the cornea and hazy vision in the long run.
It’s always better sticking to clear lenses, but if vanity calls, it’s best to reserve coloured lenses for special occasions.

3. Contact lens cases must be cleaned regularly and replaced every 3 months

While you’re cleaning your lenses, spare an extra minute to clean your lens case with lens solution too. Even if your lenses are clean, the case can carry germs and contaminate the lenses.
Replace cracked lens cases immediately as this provides an opening for bacteria to enter.


4. Never swim with contacts or let them touch water

There’s a reason why we use a special disinfectant to clean contact lenses instead of plain ol’ water – water can contain microbes and impurities, all invisible to the naked eye. Even showering with contact lenses on can lead to infections and possible blindness.
Swimming pools and water bodies like the ocean also contain germs that can be transferred to the eyes through contacts. Ditch the contacts and don a pair of prescription goggles instead when taking a dip.


5. Always wash and dry hands before handling contact lenses

Dirty hands will contaminate your contacts, in turn transmitting bacteria to your eyes. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before handling contacts, whether you are inserting or removing them.

Dry your hands on a lint-free towel to prevent cloth fibre from sticking to your hands and getting on your contacts. If you don’t have access to a towel, just be careful to check for tiny bits of tissue paper on your fingers first before touching the lenses.

6. Sleeping with contacts on is dangerous and can cause blindness

First of all, one should never wear contact lenses for prolonged durations as that can cause dryness in eyes – resulting in swelling and possible vision impairment. Sleeping with contacts on is dangerous and should never be done – unless a doctor prescribes you corrective lenses.
As we are asleep, our eyes go into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) mode, during which eye muscles move and twitch. Any contact lenses would then get shifted far behind your eyelids and be extremely difficult to remove. In more severe cases, an operation might be needed.


7. Insert your contact lenses before applying makeup

If you’ve ever gotten makeup into your contact lenses, you’ll know that it stings – burns, even. Doll up only after you’ve inserted your lenses, so as to avoid getting specks of makeup in them along the way. For the same reason, remove your contacts before wiping off your makeup. A lens full of smudged eyeliner is no joke!
That said, if you do happen to get makeup in your contacts, remove them and clean them.

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sources: CDC – AAO – CLSpectrum

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