I ’m pretty sure all of you know that your contact lenses should be cleaned before storing them in the case, but how many of you also clean the case and use a new one every month?
Granted, if you use the wrong type of skincare products for your face, you can always wait for your skin to get better. Unfortunately the same thing cannot be said for our eyes, and no, I don’t think risks should be taken to harm or damage our sight in any way! So, we sought well-needed advice from optometrist Soo Choong, who tells us all there is to contact lens care.
How many types of contact lenses are there?
Contact lenses can be categorized into two main types: soft and rigid.
For soft lenses, there’s soft conventional (which can last you anywhere between 1 year to 18 months), and soft disposable (which you wear and then throw away after the specified time frame). These soft lenses are made from silicone hydrogel, and are comfortable for extended wear.
As for rigid lenses, there are PMMA lenses (now obsolete) and gas permeable lenses. Rigid lenses are smaller in size compared to soft lenses, and are applied directly onto the cornea.
How have contact lenses evolved over the years?
First-generation contact lenses were hard, and uncomfortable to wear, with very low oxygen permeability. After that, they introduced gas-permeable lenses, then hydrogel lenses, and now, silicone hydrogel lenses. These silicone hydrogel lenses have improved oxygen permeability (which has increased from 25% to above 110% over the years).
The best type of contact lenses to use are…
Dailies, definitely. They might be more expensive, but they’re most comfortable and have high oxygen permeability. For infrequent wearers (if you’re more accustomed to glasses, and only break out a pair of contacts for special occasions), I’d say – always go for dailies. They’re also more hygienic!
What happens when our eyes don’t get enough oxygen?
Lack of oxygen supply can affect your cornea health. If your cornea is often ‘suffocated’ (this happens when you don’t cleanse or dispose of your contact lenses as often as you’re supposed to), new blood vessels are formed to try and supply more blood to the area. As a result, the cornea starts to swell, and becomes cloudy. Your vision will become blurry, and sometimes painful blisters will also form.
How to keep your contacts in tip-top condition…
Make sure your contact lenses are clean before storing them. After removing your lens, place it on your palm in a bath of disinfectant solution. Rub the surface gently for 10 seconds to remove mucus deposits. Flip it over, and repeat on the other side. Never, ever wash your lenses with tap water!
Also, your contact lens case should be changed every month. Many people don’t realize that their cases are contaminated because they’ve been using them for ages! Every day, before you store your lenses, wipe the case clean with disinfectant solution and a clean piece of tissue.
Will wearing coloured or circle lenses affect my eyesight/make me go blind?
As long as you don’t wear them for too long (coloured lenses have lower oxygen permeability), then you should be fine. However, always buy your cosmetic lenses from legitimate, licensed shops, and not from the Internet or at pasar malams!
Worst case scenarios – what to do if…
…the contact lens breaks in your eye
Flush it out immediately with saline or disinfectant solution. Don’t use tap water, which contains bacteria and contaminants.
…you’re outside and forgot your contact lens solution
Keep your lenses on, but as soon as you get home, remove the lenses immediately and let your eyes rest for 2 days.
What NOT to do:
1) Moisten your lenses with saliva or tap water under desperate measures
“You would be surprised how many people actually do this! Saliva and tap water contain a lot of bacteria, and can give your eyes severe infections.”
2) Keep wearing your contacts even though they’re irritating your eyes
“At any sign of discomfort, itching or redness, you should stop wearing your lenses immediately. Don’t persist at any cost! Always consult your regular optometrist if you experience these problems.”
3) Apply your contact lenses in public toilets
“Public toilets are a breeding ground for bacteria – you wouldn’t want to stick your finger in your eye in a place like this!”
4) Overwear your contact lenses
“If the directions say to dispose of them after a day, don’t stretch them for days! Over-wearing your contact lenses can cause your eyes to develop ulcers as the material of the lenses starts to break down and oxygen permeability lessens drastically.”
(Photos: shop.sanrio.com, groupon.my, lelong.com.my, thelashchronicles.com, pictureup.net)
Based in Brisbane, Australia, Soo has been practicing optometry for 26 years (and counting!) Her favourite leisure activity is bushwalking – her best bushwalking experience was at O’Reilly’s, where she and her husband covered 28kms in seven hours! She admires Audrey Hepburn’s poise and classic style, and her favourite movie is Breakfast at Tiffany’s.