Seven Overlooked Eye Care Tips for Contact Lens Wearers
Contact lenses are comfortable, liberating, and a great convenience - until you wind up with an ulcer on your eyeball. If you think it can't happen to you, think again. Your eyes are among the most sensitive regions of your body, and neglecting their proper care can cause big problems. The upside is that proper eye care is just as easy to do as it is to ignore! By following these simple tips, you can lower your risk of contact lens problems to almost zero.
1) Do not sleep in your contacts
It's very easy to forget that you're wearing contacts or even consciously decide to sleep in them - after all, you figure, what's the worst that could possibly happen? The answer is, unfortunately, a lot. Sleeping in your contacts is not like closing your eyes during the day. While asleep, your eyes are constantly darting back and forth as you drift through your REM cycles. This means that your contact lenses could very easily get stuck behind your eyeball. If that happens, you will need medication, painful drops, or perhaps even surgery to get them out. Repeatedly sleeping in your contacts also allows calcium to build up more quickly, which can blur your vision significantly. Even if none of this happens, your eyes need to breathe, so make sure you let them!
2) Do not wear contacts with calcium buildup
No matter how well you care for them, all contact lenses build up calcium deposits over time. When this happens, you should stop wearing them and change to a new pair right away for a variety of reasons. For one, letting clumps of calcium scrape across your eyeball is like dragging a steak knife over a soft lump of butter. It can scratch your eyeball (sometimes deeply), leading to constant, annoying watery eyes or even infection. In the most severe cases, calcium-encrusted lenses can lead to the development of ulcers on your eyeballs. If this happens, you can count on multiple weekly visits to the eye doctor and having to use one or more antibiotic drops several times a day.
3) Use saline solution throughout the day
It's important to keep your eyes lubricated at all times. This is what keeps them healthy and functioning at their best. Unfortunately, most of us are exposed to dust, pollen, mold spores, and other impurities in the air at our home or office every day. To keep these airborne eye irritants at bay, carry around a small bottle of saline solution and drop some into your eyes every few hours. The specially formulated drops will rejuvenate your eyes with a much-needed infusion of moisture.
4) Change your lenses as recommended by your doctor
Even lenses without visible calcium deposits should be changed at the interval your doctor recommends. Today there are many, many types of contact lenses that are meant to be worn for a certain length of time and no longer. The ones you have were probably selected by your doctor for a good reason, and wearing them beyond the stated time can be very troublesome. In addition to the problems discussed above, the actual lens itself could begin to deteriorate. When in doubt, check with your doctor about the safety of wearing lenses past the date he gave you.
5) Wear eyeglasses at night or when reading
Another way to give your eyeballs the precious oxygen they need is to wear eyeglasses at night. If you find yourself reading books, surfing the web, or watching TV as you wind down, this is a perfect time to swap out your contacts and toss on those glasses. It also has the added benefit of reducing the strain that contact lenses can induce over a long day. Try to get in the habit of wearing glasses if you are just lounging around the house or winding down.
6) Get regular eye checkups
So far, we've discussed obvious potential problems that anyone would instantly notice. However, many of those same problems begin in such a way that only a trained optometrist would be able to detect them in their earliest stages! For example, a scratch of the eyeball may be too small to cause any pain, but could nevertheless leave the eye exposed to dust mites or infection-causing bacteria. Once or twice yearly trips to the eye doctor for eye exams gives the professionals a chance to give your eyes the once over and make sure everything is okay.
7) Do not wear contacts if you are experiencing eye pain
Many people continue to wear their lenses even though their eyes are watering, irritated, or extremely red. Unfortunately, these people are making the situation worse by ignoring the signals their eyes are sending them. Any of those symptoms is a glaring red flag that something is very wrong with your eyes. Ignoring these signs and continuing to press an oxygen-stifling lens over the irritated eyes just contributes to the problem and could lead to more serious ones, such as infection. If your eyes look and feel irritated, take your lenses out immediately and see a doctor.
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