Author - Janice Cheung (Optometrist)
Disposable contact lenses have been increasingly popular, especially daily disposables as they provide the convenience of opening and disposing of them after each wear. Moreover, not having to worry about when you first opened the packaging and fussing with the contact lens storage, with the solution, and the case. However, as they are so easy to handle, we tend to become complacent on the handling and hygiene. It is always important to remember to wash your hands and dry them thoroughly.
The simple act of not drying your hands can lead to a whole host of infections, most markedly Acanthamoeba infections. Acanthamoeba is a parasite found in tap water, oceans and swimming pools. It can eat into the cornea and cause devastating eye infections, leading to corneal ulcers and blindness. The symptoms can be quite vague at first, with redness and itchiness, soreness, but over time it is painful as it can develop into permanent visual loss and blindness.
Recently there was a lady from the UK as featured on BBC news who had corneal scarring as she didn’t dry her hands and developed Acanthamoeba keratitis and had to be on a whole cocktail of anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, antiviral medication. If the latter turn out to be unsuccessful as the treatment of the Acanthamoeba keratitis, then corneal grafts are an option to treat the infection. All of the above indicates that it is so important to learn the proper way on how to handle your contact lenses.
Swimming therefore is also not advisable when wearing contact lenses.
As it is such a difficult condition to treat, prevention is key. These include:
Always washing your hands and drying them thoroughly with contact lens insertion and removal
Never use saliva to wet your contact lenses
Never store contact lenses in tap water
Always use multi-purpose solution (not saline) to store your contact lenses overnight, and fresh solution each time
Avoid sleeping in contact lenses
Always replace contact lenses as recommended by your optometrist. If the contact lens is designed for daily disposables, dispose of them after each single use. If the contact lens is designed for fortnightly use, dispose of them after the fortnight
When taking out contact lenses, make sure you slide them onto the white part of your eye (conjunctiva) and then peel them off there, never on the cornea (the clear part of your eye surrounding your iris) as it is most at risk of corneal infections
If there is a slight nick or tear on the contact lens, do not use them.
Your eyes are precious. Don’t be complacent in handling the contact lenses.
By Janice Cheung.
Optometrist at 1001 Optical.
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