Countless people around the world wear daily disposable contact lenses or dailies. These popular single-use lenses are removed and discarded at the end of each day, and a new, fresh pair is inserted the next morning. Used properly, dailies promote eye health, and they’re comfortable and convenient.
Despite the many advantages associated with wearing daily disposables, there are plenty of ways you can damage your eyes and vision — some you may never have considered.
1. Don't Touch Contacts with Dirty Hands
Before touching your lenses, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. By touching your contact lenses with dirty hands, you transfer bacteria to your lenses, which can lead to an infection. Preferably dry your hands with a disposable paper towel rather than a cloth towel, and ensure that no remnants of the towel remain on your fingers.
2. Don't Expose Your Contacts to Water
Any source of water, whether tap, pool, or lake water, can change the shape of your lenses and cause micro-abrasions on your cornea. Plus, the water may contain bacteria that can wreak havoc on your eye health and cause you to experience temporary vision loss or even permanent blindness.
If you must get in the water with your contacts on, make sure to wear waterproof goggles. If you do get water on your contact lenses, dispose of these lenses and insert a new pair. Exposing contact lenses to chemicals like chlorine binds to the lens and cannot be cleaned off. It then leeches onto the cornea and causes irritation.
The next time you're tempted to swim or shower with your lenses on, think twice before doing so.
3. Don't Reuse Your Contacts
Daily disposable contacts are designed to be thrown away after every single use, and people who reuse them risk painful and risky outcomes. Dailies are thinner, more fragile, and don't hold moisture as well as other contacts.
Users sometimes attempt to increase the lifespan of these lenses by cleaning them in a disinfecting solution and wearing them for several days or even weeks at a time. This is problematic, as the lens material doesn't allow for repeated disinfecting. In fact, the process of cleaning the lenses tends to be not only ineffective but also breaks down the lens itself, increasing the risk of the lens falling apart while in the eye. The risk of complications and infection is not worth the few saved bucks.
4. Don't Insert a Dropped Contact In Your Eye
One of the perks of daily lenses is that they are less expensive (per lens) than other types of contacts. So if you find yourself dropping a lens into the sink or on the floor, don't bother placing it back in your eye. Doing so can cost you your eye health.
5. Don't Ever Put Contacts In Your Mouth
It seems like a funny concept, doesn't it? You wouldn't believe the number of people who do this. If you drop a contact lens, avoid rooting around the floor trying to find it, and if you do, definitely don’t put it in your mouth to lubricate it. Your mouth contains bacteria that can infect your eyes once you reinsert your contacts.
Play it safe by carrying around an emergency pair of glasses or an extra pair of daily disposable contacts in your bag, your car, or at work.
6. Don't Overwear Your Daily Lenses
Wearing your lenses for long periods of time can damage your eyes, even if they're daily contacts. The maximum recommended daily use for any contact lens is 14-16 hours, though Dr. Shear will determine the exact number of hours you should wear your lenses. Your eyes, just like any other part of your body, need to rest. Your corneas receive oxygen from the air, not from blood vessels, and while it’s healthy to wear contacts during the day, wearing them for extended periods can significantly reduce the amount of oxygen your eyes receive, which can lead to complications. If you don't give your eyes the rest they need, your corneas might get swollen, which can lead to corneal abrasion and even bacterial infection.
7. Don't Sleep With Your Lenses
Daily lenses should never be worn overnight. You’re risking your sight by sleeping in a lens that’s not approved for overnight use, as it can lead to ocular irritation, swelling and corneal ulcers.
8. Don't Insert Contacts Before Completing Your Morning Routine
Avoid inserting your contacts before you shower or wash your face, since you risk exposing your lenses to tap water and the bacteria that come with it. We also recommend that you insert your lenses after blow-drying and styling your hair, especially if you’re using hairspray or other aerosols, as these products can dry out your contacts. Additionally, the spray can coat the lenses and leave a film that not only irritates the eyes, but can make it difficult to see. If you're at the hairdresser's and cannot remove your lenses, shut your eyes when spray is applied.
9. Don't Get Makeup On Your Contacts
Insert your contacts before applying makeup, because any makeup residue on your hands, such as mascara, can easily transfer to your lenses.
It's not uncommon for people to get concealer, eyeliner or mascara on their contact lenses. If that happens, immediately remove the lens and clean the makeup with solution (while making sure to dispose of the lens before bed). Otherwise, simply replace with another lens. Avoid wearing waterproof makeup, since it can't always be removed from your lenses, even when rinsed with solution.
To prevent makeup from getting on your lenses, don't apply mascara all the way from the base of your lashes up. Instead, apply it from the midway point. It's also important not to apply eyeliner on the inner lid of your eye, but rather to the skin above your lashes.
10. Don't Wear Contact Lenses If Your Eyes Are Irritated
As the saying goes, "if in doubt - take them out!" If your eyes feel irritated, uncomfortable, or if you notice any pain or redness, don't power through. If your symptoms last a while, contact Dr. Shear at Northwestern Eye Associates. You don't want to let a serious infection go unchecked.
When your eyes feel more rested and are free of discomfort, put in a fresh pair of contacts.
11. Don't Rub Your Eyes
If your eyes feel itchy or dry, or if a lens feels out of place, you may be tempted to rub your eyes. But rubbing, whether with contacts or without, can lead to long-term ocular issues. This may cause you to experience blurred vision, and may even damage your cornea. Instead, Dr. Shear can recommend eye drops to relieve any discomfort. Make sure to apply them only when contact lenses are removed.
Above, we have delved into things you should never do with daily contact lenses. Fortunately, if you do make a mistake, you can remove the lens and replace it with a fresh one. The few dollars you might save by not opening a new pack aren't worth the damage a mistake can cause.
If you have any questions or are interested in finding out more about contact lenses, contact Northwestern Eye Associates in Mt. Dennis today. Dr. Shear will be happy to explain how to care for your eyes and maintain your vision.