How to properly clean your contact lenses
Over the years we've heard many contact lens wearers tell us that they take their contacts out in a hurry at the end of the day and throw them right in the case so they can get to sleep. Alternatively, maybe you are in a rush to get to work on time in the morning so you insert your contacts without much due diligence. But as you can imagine, to keep healthy eyes, it's imperative you take the extra steps to keep your contacts clean and disinfected.
Dr. John Lahr, the Medical Director for EyeMed Vision Care, discusses the importance of spending extra time each day to properly clean your contacts to reduce the risk of eye infections.
Why it's important to know
“There are two primary reasons I hear for why people don't properly clean and disinfect their contacts," Lahr said. “First is that they don't know all of the necessary steps involved in the cleaning process. Second, they seem to constantly be in a rush so they don't spend the extra time, for instance, to wash their hands before putting in or taking out their contacts."
ContactsDirect cares about your eye health, so we put together the following guidelines for care of contact lenses. They have been developed in partnership by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Contact Lens Association for Ophthalmologists, the Cornea Society and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
To ensure that we found the most up-to-date contact lens cleaning methods and recommendations, we collaborated with Dr. Lahr to formulate the “Ultimate Guidelines for Properly Cleaning your Contact Lenses."
Ultimate Guidelines for Properly Cleaning your Contact Lenses
- Before handling contact lenses, wash your hands with soap and water, then rinse and dry them with a lint-free towel.
- During cleaning, rub your contact lenses in the palm of one hand using the fingers of the other hand; then rinse each lens with solution before soaking them. This "rub and rinse" method is considered by some experts to be a superior method of cleaning, even if the solution you are using is a "no-rub" variety.
- Lens cases can be a source of contamination and infection. To prevent infection, keep the contact lens case clean and replace it regularly, at least every three months. Do not use cracked or damaged lens cases. Clean your contact lens case every time you use it with either sterile solution or hot tap water and be sure to let it air dry in between use.
- Minimize the amount of contact your lenses have with water, including removing lenses before going swimming or in a hot tub. Contact lenses should not be rinsed with or stored in water (tap or sterile water).
- After your contacts are in your eyes, put on makeup so you don't get any on your lenses. Take out contact lenses before you remove makeup for the same reason.
- If you use hair spray, use it before you put in your contacts. It's also a good idea to keep your fingernails short and smooth to avoid damaging your lenses or scratching the eye.
Do's and Don'ts of contact lens wearing
- Don't put your lenses in your mouth to wet them. Saliva is not a sterile solution.
- Don't use saline solution and rewetting drops to disinfect lenses. Neither is an effective or approved disinfectant.
- Do wear and replace contact lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your eye care professional.
- Do follow the specific contact lens cleaning and storage guidelines from your eye care professional and the solution manufacturer.
“If you get in the routine of properly cleaning your contacts, your eyes will feel more refreshed and there will be less agitation," stated Dr. Lahr.
Making it a priority to clean your contacts the right way can help prevent eye infections and bad habits that could lead to unhealthy eyes.