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Home » Contact Lenses » Optimal Contact Lens Hygiene Practices: Dr. Martino Addresses Common Concerns

Optimal Contact Lens Hygiene Practices: Dr. Martino Addresses Common Concerns

lady with contact1) Is it really so important to wash my hands with soap before applying my contact lenses?  Are there certain soaps or products that should be avoided?
It is extremely important to wash your hands before touching your contact lenses. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap that does not contain any oil or perfume, and then dry your hands with a lint-free towel. 
2) I try to get "the most" out of my contact lenses, and wear them a little beyond the prescribed time interval.  Is that ok?
You should ALWAYS make sure to only wear your contact lenses for the prescribed time in order to avoid infection and remain comfortable.
3) I usually take my contacts out before going to sleep, but I sometimes fall asleep with them on.  Is that unhealthy for my eyes?
Sleeping with your contacts in is extremely unhealthy for your eyes, because the cornea is deprived of oxygen.  Under these circumstances the contact lense dries out, and could cause microscopic tears to the cornea. So if there happens to be a microorganism in your eye, the rip in the cornea is an invitation to an infection. 
4) I enjoy wearing my contact lenses during all of my waking hours.  Is there a recommended maximum number of hours a day that I should try to not go over?
The cornea receives oxygen directly from the air, as opposed to the blood, which is the case for most other organs in the body. By wearing contacts too many hours, you are starving your eyes of oxygen, which can lead to very serious damage, including vision loss. Wear your contact lenses for no more than 8 hours daily. 
5) At what age is it ok to allow children to wear contact lenses?
There is no set age, as it depends on the reason the child needs contact lenses. This is a question to ask your eye doctor when you bring your child for an eye exam. 
6) Sometimes, when I am out, my contacts feel very dry, or fall out by accident.  Is it ok to use my saliva to moisten them?
No! Saliva contains bacteria that belongs in your mouth and not in your eyes. Introducing bacteria into your eyes can easily lead to eye infections. Only use sterile solutions with your contact lenses. 
7) The solution that I use to store my contact lenses now advertises that I don't even need to clean or rub them like I used to.  What are the best practices to maintain the cleanliness of my lenses?
You should follow the cleaning regimen prescribed by your doctor or the contact lens manufacturer. An excellent way to clean your lenses is to rinse your lenses with solution, rub your contact lenses with your fingers, rinse again and then soak them. 
8) Are there any special instructions when it comes to keeping my contact lens case clean?  Can I use tap water to clean it?
Rinse your contact lens case with solution, never water. Then leave it to dry completely before refilling it with solution. Lens cases can be a source of infection if they are not cleaned properly, and they should be replaced at least once every three months.
9) Are there any further messages that are important to convey about the best ways to wear and enjoy contact lenses in the most hygienic and healthy way possible?
It’s important to remember that both contacts and solution have expiration dates, so don’t wear old contacts, or use old solution. If your eyes start to tear, itch, or become uncomfortable, take them out. Don’t risk damaging your eyes. If you don’t have your contact lens case with you, it’s better to throw them away than keep them in your eyes.