Risky Behavior: Contact Lens Care

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Risky Behavior: Contact Lens Care

A 2018 survey of contact lens wearers asked what coaching they received from their eye doctors concerning contact lens hygiene. About 1/3 of the 1,000 survey respondents reported they NEVER heard any lens care recommendations. A parallel survey of eye doctors reported they discussed risk behaviors with all contact lens patients. More than 96% of doctors recalled repeated warnings to patients to wash hands before handling lenses, replace lenses as recommended, and avoid sleeping in lenses.

Doctors are tasked with communicating with their patients, and some do a better job than others. Even if there was an education session at the initial contact lens fitting, certain risk behaviors should be discussed and reinforced at every visit. Patients should listen to these directions about the importance of proper lens handling and should ask questions to clarify the information.

Here are eight behaviors for contact lens wearers your doctor should have addressed:

1. Wash & dry hands before inserting or removing lenses
2. Replace lenses as often as recommended
3. Replace lens case at least every 3 months
4. Clean & air dry lens case regularly (with solution, not water)
5. Avoid storing or rinsing lenses in water
6. Avoid “topping off” solution — use fresh solution every time
7. Avoid showering or swimming in lenses
8. Avoid sleeping overnight in lenses

We hope most of these warnings look familiar!




For most contact lens wearers, there is a four-step care protocol to consider.

Cleaning: There are two types: daily surfactant cleaner or periodic cleaners. Daily cleaners are used each time the lens is removed from the eye. Periodic cleansers are used to remove deposits that build up over time.

Rinsing: The purpose of rinsing is to remove debris and other irritants. Tap water should never be used to rinse lenses. Acanthamoeba keratitis is a vision-threatening bacterial infection that can result from using tap water or contaminated contact lens solution.

Disinfection: Disinfecting contact lenses is important to kill off organisms that reside on the lenses. There are two types: chemical vs. hydrogen peroxide. If a hydrogen peroxide agent is used, it must be neutralized before placing the lenses back in the eye to avoid stinging and irritation.

Storage: It is important to store lenses properly in a clean lens case. Storage solution should never be ‘topped off’, instead old solution should be discarded, and fresh solution should be used each time. If you have any questions about which products to use, contact your doctor.

Do you have some ‘risky’ habits?

NKCF is interested in certain activities associated with contact lens wear. This quick, anonymous survey is for individuals with keratoconus who wear contact lenses as their primary method of vision correction. Please take a moment and share your ‘risky behavior’.

Take the survey here