How to Care for Your Contact Lenses and Eyes

Follow these steps to extend the life of your contact lenses and keep your eyes safe and healthy.

Cleaning Tips

The type of lens you have determines how you care for it.

Disposable extended-wear soft lenses need the least care. Conventional soft lenses take the most work. Follow all directions, or you could have vision problems. If you have a hard time with these steps, talk to your eye doctor. You may be able to make the steps easier, or you could switch to disposable lenses.

  1. Before you handle contacts, wash and rinse your hands with a mild soap. Make sure it doesn’t have perfumes, oils, or lotions. They can leave a film on your hands. If they get on your lenses, your eyes could get irritated or your vision might be blurry.
  2. Dry your hands with a clean, lint-free towel.
  3. If you use hair spray, use it before you put in your contacts. It’s also a good idea to keep your fingernails short and smooth so you won't damage your lenses or scratch your eye.
  4. Put on eye makeup after you put in your lenses. Take them out before you remove makeup.
  5. Some contacts need special care and products. Always use the disinfecting solution, eye drops, and enzymatic cleaners your doctor recommends. Some eye products or eye drops aren’t safe for contact wearers.
  6. Never put tap water directly on your lenses. Even distilled water can be home to nasty little bugs that can cause an infection or hurt your vision.
  7. Never put a contact in your mouth to rinse it.
  8. Clean each contact this way: Rub it gently with your index finger in the palm of your other hand. Lightly rubbing your contact removes surface buildup.
  9. Clean your lens case every time you use it. Use either sterile solution or hot tap water. Let it air dry. Replace the case every 3 months.

Wear Your Contacts Safely

Eye care experts say daily disposable lenses are the safest soft contacts. Ask your doctor for advice on care.

  1. Wear your contacts each day only as long as your doctor recommends.
  2. If you think you’ll have trouble remembering when to change your lenses, ask your eye doctor for a chart to track your schedule. If he doesn’t have one, make one for yourself.
  3. Never wear someone else’s contacts, especially if they’ve already been worn. Using other people's contact lenses can spread infections or particles from their eyes to yours.
  4. Don’t sleep with your contacts in unless you have extended-wear lenses. When your eyelids are closed, your tears don’t bring as much oxygen to your eyes as when they’re open.
  5. Don't let the tip of solution bottles touch other surfaces, like your fingers, eyes, or contacts. Any of them can contaminate the solution.
  6. Wear sunglasses with total UV protection or a wide-brim hat when you’re in the sun. Contacts can make your eyes more light-sensitive.
  7. Use a rewetting solution or plain saline solution -- whatever your doctor recommends -- to keep your eyes moist.
  8. If you accidentally insert your contacts inside out, it won’t hurt your eye. But it won’t feel good, either. To avoid this, place the lens on the tip of your finger so it forms a cup. Look at the contact from the side. If the cup looks like it flares out at the top and has a lip, the lens is inside out. If it looks like the letter "U," it’s right side out.
  9. If your eye gets irritated, take your contacts out. Don’t use them again until you’ve spoken to someone at your doctor’s office about the problem. If you keep wearing them, your eye could get infected. When you do start to wear contacts again, follow your doctor's instructions to prevent an infection.
  10. Go to your eye doctor right away if you have any sudden vision loss, blurred vision that doesn’t get better, light flashes, eye pain, infection, swelling, unusual redness, or irritation.
  11. Don’t swim with your contacts in. Goggles are better than nothing, but there’s still a chance you could get a serious infection if you wear contacts in a pool, or worse, in a lake.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on September 13, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

AllAboutVision: "Torics," "Orthroscopy."

Dillehay, SM. Eye Contact Lens, May 2007.

Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists: “Rigid Contact Lenses,” “Soft (Toric) Contact Lenses.”

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