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Tips For Contact Lens Wearers

What Every Contact Lens Wearer Needs to Know

There's no doubt that contact lens wearers everywhere shuddered when they heard a story spreading around the Internet about a student who left her contacts in for six months and went blind from an eyeball-eating amoeba. While the story's origin may be questionable, this type of eye infection can happen — though it is extremely rare and preventable if you follow the right hygiene practices.

  1. Always wash your hands before inserting or removing your lenses, and be sure to store them properly. Touching your eye with germy fingers is a great way to get a cold or nasty eye infection such as pinkeye.
  2. If you suffer from allergies, wearing contacts can make your symptoms worse since allergens like pollen and dander can stick to the lenses. Wear glasses if your symptoms are really bad, and if you can't part from your contacts (I don't blame you), be sure to clean them thoroughly or replace disposable lenses more often.
  3. Keep eye drops in your purse or desk at all times, especially if you work at a computer. Not only are dry lenses uncomfortable and difficult to see out of, but they could potentially scratch your eye. Use those drops as often as you need. If you have watery or itchy eyes caused by allergies, look for drops containing antihistamines.
  4. Only wear your lenses as long as you are directed to. Lenses meant to be worn for only two to four weeks should not be worn for two months. Dirt and protein deposits accumulate on the lenses and can cause irritation, eye infections, or permanent damage to your eyes.
  5. Avoid swimming and showering with your contacts. Contact lenses absorb anything, which can include parasites and bacteria, putting you at risk for infections or worse.
  6. Give your eyes a rest from contacts. I know it's difficult to break the habit if you wear them every waking moment of every day, but your eyes need a chance to breathe. Choose lenses that are highly breathable, and wear your glasses a few hours a day instead so oxygen can reach your corneas.
  7. Be good about keeping yearly appointments with your eye doctor to have your eyes checked and to see if you need a change to your prescription. Not only will you not be able to purchase contacts without an up-to-date prescription, but if your eyes become weaker, you won't be able to see as well with your old contacts, which isn't safe and can cause headaches.
Image Source: Thinkstock
Zoe15125049 Zoe15125049 3 years
I am thinking about getting my first pair of contact lenses. These are some great tips that I probably wouldn't have thought of. I do work at a computer most of the day and with glasses it isn't that hard, but drops are a good idea. Thank you for this post. I'm getting my lenses at
MsChoo MsChoo 7 years
I usually wear glasses when I am home. I wear contacts when I go out and as soon as i come home I take my contacts off. If my eyes feel really dry in the morning I'll choose to wear glasses instead.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I'd like to add another thing about yearly eye exams. Get one done every year, even if you have perfect eyesight. You need to be screened for eye problems that are unrelated to your vision, like glaucoma. My grandpa and my dad both have glaucoma and because of that family history, I have to be sure I get checked for it EVERY year.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
I went from wearing contacts everyday to glasses everyday. I'm not sure how I ever did it. My eyes get so dry and irritated with contacts now. I switched to daily lenses so I can wear contacts when the occasion calls for it (not very often) and then just chuck 'em. I'd like to get lasik eye surgery one day, but I think I'll wait a few years. I remember learning that pregnancy can permanently affect your prescription (for better or worse). Is that true? It would be so nice to be able to wake up in the morning and not be totally blind. Curse my family with poor vision.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 7 years
I have been wearing gas permeable hard contacts bor about 25 years and honestly I haven't taken very good care of my poor eyeballs. Luckily, I've had very little trouble with my eyes (knocks on wood). I really would like to get Lasik and probably will in the next couple years.
Liss1 Liss1 7 years
I used to wear contacts all the time, now if i have them in my eyes for only like 10 minutes they get so dry i have a hard time getting them out of my eyes. I hate it, i don't mind wearing my glasses but i would love to be able to wear contacts again to go to the beach and go swimming, stuff like that.
swtsunkisses88 swtsunkisses88 9 years
good to know since Ill be getting my first contacts soon...
smart-blonde smart-blonde 9 years
One thing that isn't mentioned here are RGP contact lenses. They're not as popular, but my astigmatism (on top of my -10 power; I've been wearing glasses since kindergarten) is so bad that a soft lens will not conform properly to the shape of my eye. I see much better with my RGP lenses than I do in my glasses, though there are a lot more restrictions on wearing RGPs than soft lenses. They last much longer and give you greater visual acuity, but they're not as comfortable and you have to be really careful about which eye drops you buy; not all of them can be used with RGP lenses. You still have to take all the safety precautions mentioned above while handling them, though, and you should never sleep in them!
ddene5713 ddene5713 10 years
a couple of days ago i went to my eye doctor and found out that i have astigmatism in my left eye. my prescription is SO strong. i'm about be 22 and have been wearing contacts since 10th grade... not all too long but I used to go a day or two without taking my contacts out. i def stopped doing that b/c i had infections and needed special drops to fix the prob. as long as you take care of your eyes and wear glasses at night//morning i think it's fine. i haven't had an eye prob since back then.
georgie2 georgie2 10 years
Sadly, I've been told I am not a good candidate for lasik. Maybe I'll ask in a few more years when there's been more advances... =(
Spectra Spectra 10 years
I have really bad eyesight too (-6.5) and one of my eyes has an astigmatism, so I need a special contact for it. I've been wearing contacts since I was in 7th grade (my parents both knew how much having Coke bottle lenses suck) and I will definitely add a couple of things: 1) Make sure your contacts are durable enough for your lifestyle. When I originally got mine, they were too soft and I used to constantly be tearing them. One even tore in half while it was in my eye! My optometrist switched me to a more durable lens and I had no problems 2) Never EVER sleep in your contacts. I did this once when I was on a weekend getaway with my husband and I forgot my solution and case. I wore my lenses for something like 52 hours straight and I ended up getting a corneal ulcer. I had to wear glasses for a couple months until the cornea healed. 3) If you are handling hot peppers, chili peppers, etc., ALWAYS wash your hands VERY well with hot water and soap to get all the residue off your hands before you even think about touching your contacts. They can hold onto the capsaicin and the next time you put them in, it will burn like there's no tomorrow. Even though contacts are kind of a pain sometimes, I still prefer them over glasses. I, too, have looked into LASIK and I think I may have it done someday. My boss had it done and he now has 20/20 vision with no side effects. Sounds like it might be pretty ok to me.
JessNess JessNess 10 years
starofsorrow- In terms of correcting your vision contacts are better because the lens is close to your eye (well on your eye). However with glasses the lens is further away so you still get some eye strain from trying to correct your vision. That probably why your eyes felt tired
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 10 years
I just went to sephora (right next door) and tried on the Fiberwig mascra and its great! Its really hard for me to send $22 on mascra so for those of you who dont mind you should get it. It doesnt clump or anything!
starofsorrow starofsorrow 10 years
I've wore glasses since I was in third grade...a nd contacts since ninth grade. I'm 24. Lordy.... Today's the first day I wore glasses to school in over two weeks and my eyes feel exhausted. I've noticed that if I wear contacts, I'm more awake, but if I wear glasses, I'm more tired. What's the deal with that? And yeah, time for me to schedule for my yearly eye exam... haven't had one in a long time. Eek! Money issues, ya know.
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 10 years
great information. I want the lasik but Im too much of a punk to do that....yet. I hate the hassel of contacts but hate wearing my glasses. ARGH!!!!
laura6567 laura6567 10 years
People who have really weak prescriptions don't understand how annoying glasses are for those of us that have really bad prescriptions. Mine's -9 (so aimeeb can commiserate), and i have NO peripheral vision, and my glasses end up being really thick and heavy because the glass is so thick. If I'm going up stairs with my glasses on, I can't tell who's coming down. It's harder for me in general to see faces with my glasses on, so people alwyas think I'm ignoring them. I too had contact lens problems. Protein was building up on my contact lenses because the prescription is high. I switched to dailies and love them. They're a little more expensive but totally worth it.
magita magita 10 years
And don't sleep in your lenses! That was my biggest vice, but on a deployment in the Army I would wear them for a month at a time without taking them off (stupid, I know), and ended up with a scratched cornea which hurt like crazy, and to make matters worse, it was about a week before I had to take the GRE and had a heck of a time trying to concentrate and read the test. I used to routinely sleep in them because I had such a hard time putting them in early in the morning, and even the ones that you're supposed to sleep in for a month at a go aren't recommended by a lot of opthamologists because there's just too much of a chance sand, bacteria, etc. will get in there. Now I just force myself every night to remove them, no matter what. Its worth the hassle.
nslods nslods 10 years
I first got glasses in the 6th grade. Then, come high school, I finally got contacts, and practically worshipped them. I would wear them ALL day EVERY day, and was also one of those that tried to prolong the life of my contacts by wearing them longer than recommended. In late high school, I developed a problem with my eyes where the surface cells of my one eye was damaged due to wearing the regular wear contacts (not disposables). So I switched to the 1-2 week contacts after needing to use special drops for a while. I fell back into my regular contacts habit after that, and it wasn't until just recently that I've started wearing glasses more often. I had gone to an eye doctor, after not going for several years, only to discover I had the beginning stages of keratitis. I was put on heavy duty eye drops, an eye cleanser called Igiene, and given very thin contacts with a very high water content (I can't remember the name of them right now). What scared me the most was I had these spots on my cornea (which eventually went away), but the worst was I had blood vessels starting to grown into my cornea. They're not supposed to do that! But they were because my eye wasn't getting enough oxygen. And apparently, in 3rd world countries, the blood vessels can grow into the cornea so bad that it can cause blindness! As for people saying they hate glasses, I always did. Until I finally got a pair that I truly, truly love. Yes, they are still a pain at times, but all in all I'm happier to know my eyes will stay more healthy if I wear my glasses more than my contacts!
Schaianne Schaianne 10 years
I couldn't wear contacts so I splurged and had LASIK done! Yay ... one of the best things I've done for myself!!
georgie2 georgie2 10 years
I've been wearing contacts since I was about 11, and i'm 23 now. Last year I had a problem were I irritated my eyes so much that I started getting a white spot on my eye. It was what was irritating me, basically a little scar or scab. I had to just wear glasses for ages! Yes, I try harder to take them out when I get home now.... and wear glasses more. Don't want to make it so that i can not wear them ever!
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