Many Americans suffer from vision problems. Advancements in medical science have allowed us to correct these issues using eye glasses, contact lenses, and laser eye surgery. While contact lenses provide many benefits, improper handling and cleaning of contact lenses can lead to eye infections. The best way to help reduce this risk, whether you wear hard (rigid gas permeable) or soft lenses, is to practice good hand hygiene habits and clean and disinfect your lenses and supplies.
Hand hygiene is a critical step to ensure healthy eyes. Before inserting or removing contacts, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least twenty seconds to remove dirt and germs. Also make sure to dry your hands completely, because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, microbes that can cause eye infections are often found in water.1 Using hand sanitizer is not generally recommended because the residual alcohol on your hands may transfer to your eye and cause pain, but, if you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and then wait a few minutes for it to fully evaporate before touching your contact lenses.2 This prevents the transfer of germs from your hands to your contact lenses.
Rub and rinse your contact lenses and case with a disinfecting solution, never water, after each use. And, do not reuse contact solution in your case—dump it out, rinse with disinfecting solution, and then use fresh solution to store your contacts1. When you are wearing your lenses, store the case in a clean, dry environment. Experts recommend replacing your case once every three months.
Contact lenses are a great solution for many people, but remember to wash and sanitize your hands before and after use and care for your contacts to help prevent eye infection and damage.