Contact Lens Care - Never Be Complacent

What's your typical contact lens care process? Remove, rinse, store?

This is really not enough.

It is all too easy to become complacent, especially now that multi-purpose solutions have made contact lens cleaning a simple one-step affair by combining rinsing, protein removal, disinfection and storage.

Disposable contact lenses, which range from the daily to monthly wear kind, have all but eliminated the cleaning process.

Unfortunately, convenience has lent itself to abuse. The ease afforded by disposable lenses and multi-purpose solutions has led wearers to take for granted the need for proper contact lens care and cleaning, which involves rinsing, gentle rubbing, another rinse with the solution and, finally, storage.

Also, wearers should not use disposable lenses for longer than specified.

Protein Accumulation in Contact Lenses

Made with special polymers, disposable lenses have varying levels of protein "resistance", depending on their recommended shelf-life. Manufacturers may achieve this by using polymers that are less "sticky" for proteins.

However, protein accumulation is inevitable and while this is not dangerous in itself, it can encourage bacterial or fungal growth.

The multi-purpose solutions do contain anti-microbial active ingredients but we should not rely too much on these properties as the active ingredients weaken over time. In fact, the solutions should be tossed out a month after opening.

Manufacturers cannot add too much active ingredients as these may cause discomfort to wearers. So proper contact lens care such as lens cleaning is still essentia1.

Good hygiene is crucial in warding off infections and complications related to contact lens use.

One of the most common is corneal keratitis, which is the inflammation of the cornea. Often caused by bacterial infections, the symptoms include redness and pain.

Wearers may also experience complications such as corneal neovascularisation. An insufficient supply of oxygen leads to the formation of new vessels in the eye which result in redness and discomfort.

Hypersensitivity to contact lens solutions may also occur. Patients may experience redness and stinging but this can usually be remedied by discontinuing lens wear and changing the lens solution.

Cleaning is essential to remove the protein that accumulates through the day.

Besides causing irritation, the protein build-up can encourage bacterial or fungal growth.

This is because protein build-up, as well as contamination from make-up or fragrances, can create an environment in which microbes thrive.

Storage of Contact Lenses

Good storage habits are also one of the essential contact lens care processes.

The worst place to store lenses is the bathroom. The warmth and humidity encourage bacterial and fungal growth.

Another common mistake -leaving solution in the lens case.

Wearers should drain away any remaining solution, rinse the case with water and turn it upside down to dry. This prevents the accumulation of residue and grit that can encourage pathogenic growth. To be doubly safe, change the case every three months.

Your eyes are precious, make an appointment to visit the optician for eye checkup.

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