Contact lenses, disposable or fixed, are worn daily by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. But how many use them correctly? From cleaning to conservation, the errors are very common. Dr. Paolo Vinciguerra, director of the Center of Ophthalmology Hospital Humanitas, gave IoDonna eight pages of valuable advice for those who have to wear contact lenses.
When should you replace your contact lenses?
“Apart from those of daily use, for the others, the right interval varies according to the type. In general, we should not wait until the deadline.”
How to store them?
“When storing the contact lenses, you must replace the solution and not top up the present. After a few hours of their arrival into the liquid, the bacteria form a biofilm that reduces the effectiveness of antibacterial agents and solutions which can then go against this sort of film. Just adding new fluid means we are thereby allowing bacteria to proliferate unmolested, in spite of the disinfectants. It is therefore necessary to empty the container, wash it carefully, leave it to dry upside down and then refill it with liquid.”
Should we wash them with tap water?
“Tap water should never be used: as the water can contain pests such as formidable keratistis and other amoebae acanthamoeba responsible for very serious diseases of the cornea, and in general it is not suitable for the quantity of salts and the absence of specific disinfectants.”
Should we sleep with our lenses on?
“You shouldn’t do that. Wearing your lenses while sleeping can causes micro-abrasions that pave the way for bacteria, which can colonize the cornea and can be risky for infections all over the eye. Also this habit reduces the normal oxygen supply to the corneal tissue. Finally, the cornea desensitizes and this limits your ability to understand that something is wrong until it’s too late to act effectively and not have permanent damage.”
Can we take a shower with our contact lenses?
“Never, for the same reasons why we should not use tap water to wash them.”
Is swimming with our lenses safe?
“Although they allow us to see well, one should avoid wearing lenses when swimming, even at sea. The risk, once again, is to come into contact with bacteria and amoebas that can lead to serious infections or irritants of various types. It is best to use them with a diving mask.”
Handle contact lenses with clean hands!
“It is essential to always wash your hands before handling your lenses, for at least 20 seconds using soap and making sure to then rinse it away entirely. The germs on hands can stay on the lens and cause infections and irritations. Ideally you should use a soap with disinfectant properties, like the surgical ones sold in pharmacies. The hands are then always dried off with clean towel to prevent contact with tap water.”
Glasses or lenses?
“It is advised to always bring glasses, to avoid having to wear lenses, which may bother you in case you lose a lens.”