Caring for your contact lenses

More than 3 million people in the UK wear contact lenses – approximately 13% of the total population. Women are more likely to wear contact lenses than men, with 16% of women wearing them compared to 11% of men. Younger people are also more likely to wear contact lenses, with between 18% and 21% of 16 to 49 year olds wearing them, compared to 2% to 9% of the over 50s.

There are two man types of contact lenses; rigid gas permeable or soft – instructions for both will vary accordingly – so it is vital you follow your optometrist’s advice. Being careless with your contact lenses can lead to serious infections in your eyes – in some cases, misuse of contact lenses has led to parasites, bacterial and fungal infections, herpes and temporary or permanent blindness.

For all types of contact lenses, you should always:
Wash, rinse and dry your hands thoroughly before you handle your lenses
Have an up-to-date pair of glasses you can wear for when you remove your lenses
Keep hold of the contact lenses packet with the batch number on it in case you suffer a bad reaction or side effects
Only use your lenses for the time recommended
Attend regular check-ups with your optometrist
Seek the advice of your optometrist if you are experiencing problems with your lenses
Never put a torn or damaged lens in your eye
Never share your lenses with others and never wear other peoples’
Never rinse your lenses or store them in tap water
Never transfer lens solution into smaller bottles or other containers – as you are risking it not being sterile anymore
Never lick or wet your lenses with saliva
Never wear contact lenses while swimming or showering, unless you wear water-tight goggles.

For reusable contact lenses, it is essential that after removing them, you disinfect them to prevent harmful bacteria from building up on the lens. To disinfect your lenses, soak them in a suitable solution in their storage case for the time you have been advised. Never reuse dirty solution or top it up with fresh; any used solution must be discarded after use. Make sure you rinse your storage case and leave it open to air-dry after use every day and replace it with a new case on a monthly basis.

For disposable contact lenses, it is vital that you never reuse them – as they are unsuitable for repeated usage. If you wear daily disposable lenses, it is still important to attend regular check-ups with your optometrist.

When wearing your contact lenses; ask yourself the following questions:
Can I see well?
Do my eyes look good?
Do my eyes feel good?

If you can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions, please remove them immediately and seek advice from your optometrist.