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Contact Lens Care

Topic Overview

Safety tips and lens care

The following tips can help you keep your contacts clean and safe, which will help keep your eyes healthy and your vision as clear as possible.

  • Carefully follow the cleaning instructions for your lenses.
  • Keep your lenses and all supplies very clean. Always wash and rinse your hands thoroughly before inserting or removing lenses. Do not apply hand lotion before handling your contacts.
  • Use the lens care system your eye specialist recommends. Do not mix products, because they may not be compatible. Never use homemade saline solutions. (They can be easily contaminated with bacteria.) Do not reuse solution.
  • Never wet your lenses with saliva or place lenses in your mouth. The bacteria that are naturally present in your mouth may cause an eye infection.
  • Always rinse the lens storage case and let it air-dry to avoid contamination. Never use tap water or distilled water to rinse or store your lenses.
  • Get routine eye exams to check the condition of your lenses and the health of your eyes.
  • Contact lenses, especially soft lenses, may absorb eyedrops, which can cause problems. Take your contacts out before you put eye medicine in your eye. You can put your contacts back in 15 minutes after using the eyedrops.
  • Insert your lenses before applying makeup. Take care not to get makeup on the lenses. Replace eye makeup (especially mascara) every 3 to 6 months to reduce the risk of contamination. Do not apply makeup to the inner rim of the eyelid.
  • Decorative color lenses can cause eye problems, such as damage to the cornea or eye infections, just as easily as contact lenses worn for vision correction. To avoid eye problems, be sure to follow the directions for cleaning and wearing these lenses.
  • Do not wear contact lenses when you swim.

To avoid eye problems, be sure to follow the directions for cleaning and wearing contact lenses. Contact lens wearers have an increased risk for serious eye infections and injury to the cornea. Contact lenses can cause eye problems, such as damage to the cornea or eye infections. Small objects that get into the eye may become trapped under a lens and scratch the cornea. Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) or other minor eye infections are likely to irritate your eyes and make wearing contacts uncomfortable and unsafe.

Symptoms of possible problems with contacts include redness, pain or burning in the eye, drainage, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light (photophobia). If you are having problems, remove your lenses and disinfect them. If you have symptoms longer than 2 to 3 hours after removing and cleaning your contacts, call your eye doctor.

How to remove a contact lens that is stuck

Wash your hands before you try to take out a lens. Try using sterile saline or contact-lens eyedrops to help float the lens back over the cornea. If the lens is still stuck, you can try one or more of the following:

  • Look in a mirror to see if you can find an edge of the lens. If you can see the edge, use a finger to slide the lens back over the cornea.
  • If you can't see the lens and you think it is under your upper eyelid, relax your eyelid. Try to feel the lens through your eyelid. If you can feel the lens, try to move it back over the cornea.
  • Look downward as far as possible to see if the lens moves out from under the eyelid back over the cornea.
  • Gently massage your eyelid. Start at the top of the eye, and massage downward to see if you can move the lens down.
  • Try to lift the upper eyelid to see if you can see the lens and take it out.

If you can't remove a contact lens, call an eye professional for an appointment.

Other Places To Get Help

Organizations

American Academy of Ophthalmology: EyeSmart
Web Address: www.geteyesmart.org

American Optometric Association
Web Address: www.aoa.org

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Contact Lenses
Web Address: www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ContactLenses/default.htm

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Current as of October 30, 2013

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