Contact lenses are among the safest and most effective forms of visual correction—but only when you follow your doctor's advice. When you do not use and wear them properly, there can be serious consequences.
In this blog, we’d like to spotlight 4 of the most important healthy habits you need to develop regarding the proper use of, and care for, your contact lenses. This guidance has been developed by Dr. Sonsino’s committee, the American Optometric Association's Contact Lens and Cornea Section, in cooperation with the American Academy of Optometry.
Healthy Habit #1:
Always Rub Your Lenses When You Take Them Out.
Rubbing the contact lens for between two and 20 seconds—depending on your contact lens care solution—removes deposits and microorganisms, and reduces complications. Follow the rub step with a thorough rinse-with-solution for the time specified by the manufacturer (usually between five and 10 seconds). Recent evidence conclusively demonstrates that rubbing and rinsing the lens after wear provides the safest lens wear for all contact lenses and care systems currently on the market.
PLEASE NOTE: Some hydrogen peroxide systems contain a rinse step prior to soaking the lenses overnight. Gas permeable (GP) lenses also contain a rub step with hydrogen peroxide systems prior to this rinse step. If you are unsure how to care for your lenses, please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions provided with your care system or contact your optometrist.
Healthy Habit #2:
Do Not Use “Get the Red Out” Drops with Your Contacts.
Any eye drops not approved for contact-lens wear can cause damage to both the contact lens and the eye. Stay away from drops that claim to “get the red out,” as they typically contain chemicals that may be detrimental to your long-term eye health. Preservative-free eye drops, in general, are very safe to use with contact lenses. Eye drops that contain preservatives can have a toxic effect on the eye and should be avoided. Consult your optometrist at Optique regarding which drops are best for your eyes and for contact lens materials.
Healthy Habit #3:
Take the Proper Steps Each Time You Remove Your Lenses.
Contact lenses are all taken care of differently. The following steps are offered as general guidance regarding how most soft contact lenses should be cared for after removal, in conjunction with a multipurpose solution (rub and rinse times may vary depending on solution manufacturer). Hydrogen peroxide care systems will require different steps from the ones listed below. Please keep in mind that daily disposable contact lenses are removed each night and thrown away, so no cleaning is required.
General Healthy Steps:
• Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your contact lenses.
- • Always work with the same lens first. (Example: Always remove your right lens first or your left lens first.)
• Remove one lens and place it in the palm of your hand.
• Apply multipurpose contact lens solution and rub the lens for about 20 seconds on each side. (The actual rub time depends on the solution manufacturer’s instructions.)
• Rinse the contact lens with the multipurpose solution for about 10 seconds on each side. (Actual rinse time depends on the solution manufacturer’s instructions.) Never use tap water to rinse your lenses, as it has been shown to significantly increase the risk of severe ocular infections. (Please see Healthy Habit #4 below.)
• Place the contact lens into a clean, dry lens case and then completely fill the well of the case with multipurpose solution.
• Repeat steps three through six with the other eye’s lens.
• Soak the lenses according to the manufacturer’s recommended soaking time. This time will vary depending on the brand of solution, but is usually between four and eight hours.
• Read the solution packaging thoroughly for instructions about lens cleaning and always follow the manufacturer-recommended procedure.
• Dispose of your contact lens case every one to three months. Overuse of a case can result in significant eye infections due to bacterial contamination. A new case is typically provided with each new bottle of solution purchased.
• Always rinse your case with fresh solution and allow it to air dry in the morning before reusing it. Never “top off” your solution—doing so increases your chances of a contact-lens-related complication.
Healthy Habit #4:
Never Use Tap Water for Any Part of Lens Care.
Tap water contains microorganisms which can lead to serious eye infections and loss of vision. One of the more well-known water-borne infections is caused by acanthamoeba, a microscopic, free-living amoeba (single-celled organism). Acanthamoeba can cause an infection of the cornea, the transparent outer covering of the eye where a contact lens sits. These organisms are very common in nature and can be found in bodies of water (for example, lakes and oceans), hence the recommendation to avoid use of water with lenses.
You should never use tap water in ANY area of your lens care, including rinsing the lenses and the lens case. Do not attempt to make your own homemade saline or contact lens solutions. Also, make sure your hands are completely dry before handling your lenses.
A Final Thought . . .
If you wear scleral lenses, the principles are similar. With scleral lenses, a rubbing step is critical. We use hydrogen peroxide systems to clean at night and a very specific rewetting solution during the day. When you leave our office wearing scleral lenses for the first time, we spend significant time with you to ensure that every one of your habits is correct.
Here at Optique, we thoroughly enjoy serving you with top-notch eye care. Each and every day, we strive to deliver the superior quality you deserve, but there’s an important part for you to play, as well. If you are a contact-lens wearer—and develop the 4 Healthy Habits spotlighted above—you’ll be on the path to a lifetime of happy, healthy, and very satisfying contact-lens wear.
More About Dr. Jeffrey Sonsino
Dr. Sonsino is a diplomate in the Cornea, Contact Lenses, and Refractive Technologies section of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). He is also immediate-past chairman of the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Council on Cornea and Contact Lenses, a fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society, and is on the advisory board of the Gas Permeable Lens Institute (GPLI). In 2017, he was awarded the Practitioner of the Year by the GPLI, the Advocate of the Year by the American Optometric Association, and locally, was awarded a Top Three Optometrists in Nashville award by the Nashville Scene.