Because contact lenses sit on the surface of your eye, safety and hygiene are important when putting them in and taking them out. The following are some useful contact lenses dos and don'ts.
• Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your contact lenses or eyes
• Have a pair of suitable glasses for when you're not wearing contact lenses
• Have regular eye and contact lens check-ups. Prescriptions change over time, especially when we're older
• Remove your lenses if they feel wrong, or if your vision is blurry
• Remove your lenses in the shower and bath, and when swimming or playing water sports
• Remove your lenses before bed unless your optician or ophthalmologist says it's okay
• Seek advice if you're experiencing problems, such as a red, sore or swollen eye
• Wear your lenses for longer than the recommended time
• Wear lenses that haven't been prescribed for your eyes
• Put water or saliva on your lenses when you're wearing them
• Put a dropped lens back in without cleaning it thoroughly
• Use a damaged lens
• Share lenses with anyone
• Reuse a daily disposable lens
• Use eye drops while wearing your lenses, unless your optician or ophthalmologist says it's okay
What kind of contact lenses are there?
There are three different kinds of contact lenses: disposable, soft reusable and hard reusable.
Daily disposable contact lenses
Soft, daily disposable lenses should only be worn once. If you wear disposable lenses you can keep your eyes healthy by:
• Making sure you put them in the correct way round
• Checking them for damage before putting them in
• Never re-using them
Reusable contact lenses
There are two types of reusable lenses – soft and hard. Soft lenses can be reused daily for a limited amount of time, usually between one week and a month. Hard reusable lenses can be reused every day for up to one year.
How should I clean my contact lenses?
If you use daily disposable lenses then you don't need to clean or disinfect them. You should disinfect reusable lenses every day, using a contact lens solution as advised by your optician. This will help to prevent eye infections.
To look after your reusable lenses safely:
• Clean them with a contact lens solution every time you take them out
• Rinse your lenses with solution after cleaning them
• Leave your lenses in a disinfecting solution overnight, unless the packaging instructs you otherwise
• Never reuse the same disinfecting solution, or top it up. Use a fresh solution every time
• Avoid pouring solution into travel-size bottles. They might be dirty
• Never use tap water on your lenses or case as it's not always sterile
• Replace your lens case at least once a month
What if my eyes are red, sore or swollen?
While rare, contact lens use can cause eye problems. If one or both eyes are red, sore or swollen, then:
• Avoid wearing contact lenses until the problem's cleared up. Use glasses instead
• Avoid wearing eye make-up
• If removing the lenses doesn't resolve the problem, seek advice from your optician
• Always wash your hands before inserting and removing lenses, and always disinfect reusable lenses before use
• Never wear lenses for longer than the recommended time
• Speak to your optician if your eyes are red or sore. Visit your GP if the problem doesn't clear up