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As Contact Lens Week (Aug 21-25) comes to a close, let me share with you a few interesting facts and FAQ’s about contact lenses!
According to the CDC, 30 million people in the US wear contact lenses! Contact lenses are a great option for all types of visual needs and now with significantly expanded options and comfort, everyone can give them a try. Contact lenses are a great option for day to day wear or just for occasions where you would rather not wear your glasses. Personally, if I could not wear my contacts, I would be in trouble.
Contact lenses are a medical device. Purchasing contact lenses without a prescription from your Optometrist is asking for trouble. Changing your lenses when they are supposed to be changed, washing your hands throughly before removing your lenses, and following up as directed by your doctor are the best ways to keep your eyes healthy and happy. Lets go through a few of my frequently encountered questions from the exam room…
“I wear my contacts for 3-4 weeks, but I know I’m only supposed to wear them for 2…thats ok right?”
Lenses are prescribed for a certain amount of wear time as determined by research and approved by the FDA. If you are prescribed lenses that are to be worn for 2 weeks, they should be thrown out 2 weeks after opening the package – whether you wore them 14 times or 1! If you have worn your contacts beyond their time (tsk tsk!) you may have noticed that they are less comfortable and your vision is slightly blurry. The reason for this (and no its not that we want to sell you tons of contact lenses :)) is the material is made to be used for that set amount of time and will start to degrade. Once this process starts, it is more likely that bacteria will get into the lenses and then onto your eyes which could lead to a lot of complications.
If you are not sure how long your contacts are approved for, I have listed a few of the most common brands with their most common wear schedule below – however – your doctor may have prescribed your lenses for different wear schedules depending on your personal needs so always follow their instructions.
Acuvue Oasys – typically 14 days, unless they were prescribed for overnight wear then 7 days!
Avaira brands – 14 days
Acuvue Vita – 30 days
Air Optix brands – 30 days
Biofinity brands – 30 days
Bausch + Lomb Ultra or PureVision brands – 30 days
“Sometimes I fall asleep in my contacts, is this really so bad?”
Well….yes, is the short answer. All eye care practitioners know that patients sleep in their contacts and there are lenses out there that have been FDA approved for overnight wear. That being said, I never recommend patients sleep in their contacts! Let me explain…
The cornea (the clear front surface of your eye that the contact lens sits on) has no blood vessels because it has to stay clear so you can see! Because of this, the majority of the oxygen that the cornea needs to stay healthy comes from the environment. When we put a contact lens on the eye, we are blocking some of that oxygen from getting to the cornea already, once we close our eyes, our eyelids add an extra barrier making it very difficult for oxygen to reach the cornea. Think of it like putting a plastic bag over your head an trying to breathe…all night! This is why I don’t ever think its a good idea for patients to sleep in their lenses, especially not on a regular basis. Even for napping I recommend taking the lenses out, putting them in fresh multipurpose solution, and reinserting them when you wake up!
“How should I clean my contacts?”
The solution you choose is very important and should be a “multi-purpose solution” not simply “saline”. I recommend a name brand solution such as Opti-Free PureMoist, Opti-Free RepleniSH, or BioTrue. Generic versions of multi-purpose solutions are available in just about every eye care aisle but they tend to have harsher preservatives making contact lens wearers less comfortable in their contacts. Using a standard saline solution does not have the cleaning component that a multipurpose solution has – its like washing your dirty hands with water only and no soap! Make sure you are changing your case on a regular basis as well, at least every 1-3 months. If it looks dirty THROW IT OUT!
To best clean your contacts:
- Take the lens out and place in the palm of your hand
- Add a few drops of multipurpose solution to the lens
- Gently rub the lens for about ten seconds
- Flip lens over and repeat on other side
- Store lenses in a clean contact lens case with fresh solution
The other option is to wear daily contact lenses! Daily contact lenses are great for every day or for vacations, they don’t require any cleaning or solution use because you put them in, in the morning and throw them out when you’re done!
I hope you have learned something new about how to keep your eyes safe with contact lenses. If you have any questions or are interested in trying contacts, or a new contact lens type (or a daily!), request an appointment through the website or Facebook page or call 973-594-0020 to set up an appointment!
Hope to see you soon!