Caring for Your Contact Lenses and Your Eyes

Following these steps will extend the life of your contact lenses and protect the safety and health of your eyes.

Keep Lenses Clean

The type of lens you have determines how you care for it. Disposable extended-wear soft lenses need the least care, and conventional soft lenses need extensive care. To avoid vision-threatening complications, you must carefully follow directions for lens care. If you have a hard time following the cleaning steps, tell your eye care professional. You may be able to simplify the steps, or you may want to switch to disposable lenses.

  1. Before handling contact lenses, wash and rinse hands. Use a mild non-cosmetic soap. Soaps with perfumes, oils, or lotions leave a film on the hands, which you may transfer to your lenses and cause eye irritation or blurred vision.
  2. Dry 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 to avoid damaging your lenses or scratching the eye.
  4. After your contacts are in your eyes, put on makeup so you don’t get any on your lenses. Take out contact lenses before you remove makeup for the same reason.
  5. Different types of contact lenses require special care and certain types of products. Always use the disinfecting solution, eye drops, and enzymatic cleaners your eye care professional recommended. Some eye products or eye drops are not safe for contact lens wearers.
  6. Never use tap water directly on lenses, and never put contact lenses in your mouth to "rinse" them. Microorganisms can live in even distilled water, causing infection or sight damage.
  7. Clean each contact by rubbing it gently with your index finger in the palm of your other hand. Most multipurpose solutions don’t have “No Rub” on their labels anymore. Lightly rubbing your contact removes surface buildup.
  8. Clean your contact lens case every time you use it with either sterile solution or hot tap water. Let it air dry. Replace the contact lens storage case every three months.


Wear Contacts Safely

Eye care experts currently consider daily disposable lenses the safest soft contact lenses for your eyes. Talk to your eye care professional to determine which may be the best choice for you. Then follow his guidance on care.

  1. Each day, wear your contacts only as long as your eye care professional recommended.
  2. If you think you’ll have trouble remembering when to change your lenses, ask your eye care professional for a chart to track wearing schedule. If he doesn’t have one, consider creating one on your own.
  3. Never wear another person's contact lenses, especially if someone has already worn them. Using other people's contact lenses can spread any infection or particles from their eyes to yours.
  4. Do not sleep with contact lenses in your eyes unless you are prescribed "extended wear" contacts. Closed eyes don’t allow tears to carry a healthy amount of oxygen to your eyes.
  5. Don't let the tip of solution bottles touch other surfaces, including fingers, eyes, or contact lenses. All of these can contaminate the solution.
  6. Wearing contact lenses may cause your eyes to become more sensitive to sunlight. Wear sunglasses with total UV protection or a wide brim hat when in the sun.
  7. To keep eyes lubricated, use a re-wetting solution or plain saline solution that your eye doctor has approved.
  8. If you accidentally insert contacts inside out, it won’t harm your eyes, but it will be uncomfortable. To avoid this, place a contact lens on the tip of your finger so that it forms a cup. Look at the contact lens from the side. If the cup looks like it is flaring out at the top and has a lip, the contact lens is inside out. If it looks like the letter "U", the contact lens is right side out.
  9. If you develop any eye irritation, remove your contact lenses and don’t use them again until you talk with your eye care professional. Wearing a contaminated pair of lenses invites the infection to stay. When you get back to wearing contacts, closely follow your doctor's instructions to prevent eye infections.
  10. Visit your eye doctor immediately if you have any sudden vision loss, persistent blurred vision, light flashes, eye pain, infection, swelling, unusual redness, or irritation.
  11. Do not swim in your contact lenses. Wearing goggles is better than not wearing them, but there remains a substantial chance of serious infection if you wear your contacts while swimming in a pool, or worse, in a lake.

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


SOURCES: "Torics" and "Orthroscopy."

Dillehay, SM. Eye Contact Lens, May 2007.

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

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