Eye Care Essentials: 5 Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

Makeba Giles

Makeba Giles

Content Creator and Curator at MELISASource
Makeba Giles is an Health, Family, and Lifestyle Blogger. She is also a Midwest Mother of four, and the Founder and Creative Director of MELISASource.com. |

EMAIL: [email protected]
Makeba Giles

I‘ve worn contact lenses since I was 17 years old. I remember not wanting to rush into wearing contact lenses too soon. Instead, I waited until I felt completely ready to take on the responsibility involved in wearing contact lenses and managing my eye health.

Now I have one adult daughter who wears contact lenses, and one teenage daughter who has been relentless in her quest to wear contact lenses, too. Just like I did with my own self and with my oldest daughter, I want to be sure that my teen daughter is ready to handle everything that wearing contact lenses requires. I am proud to say that I have gone two decades and counting without any problems resulting from improper care or wear of contact lenses. It is my hope that my two daughters can go that long—and beyond—without incident as well.

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My teen daughter and I in our glasses

Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

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My oldest daughter and I wearing our contact lenses — my youngest daughter is ready to join us with contacts of her own.

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To do so, it’s going to take a lot of work. As both their Mom and a long-time lens wearer, I want then to understand that clean and safe handling of contacts is one of the most important measures they can take to protect their vision and maintain optimal eye health. I decided to share my own personal journey of wearing contact lenses with them, as well as a wealth of information and tips of health rules to follow if you wear contacts from the American Optometric Association that I hope they will carry with them throughout their lifetimes.

Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

Rules of the Road for Proper Care and Hygiene

  • When people do not use lenses as directed by an eye doctor, the consequences can be dangerous and can even damage the eyes, potentially causing long-term problems with vision and eye health.
  • According to the American Optometric Association’s 2015 American Eye-Q® Survey, more than half (59 percent) of Americans wear disposable contact lenses longer than the suggested duration. This bad habit can cause permanent eye damage from bacterial infections and oxygen deprivation.
  • Cleaning and rinsing lenses with proper solutions is important to remove mucus, secretions, films or deposits that can build up during wearing and lead to bacterial growth if not removed properly. Sadly, 31 percent of consumers admit to using rewetting drops, and 16 percent use tap water to clean contact lenses instead of a multi-purpose solution.
  • A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found nearly one-third of contact lens wearers report going to the doctor for red or painful eyes related to wearing contact lenses.
  • The AOA recommends contact lens wearers maintain a consistent hygiene routine, including:
    • Washing and drying hands before handling contact lenses;
    • Carefully and regularly using cleaning solution to rub the lenses with fingers and rinsing thoroughly before soaking lenses overnight in a sufficient multi-purpose disinfectant solution;
    • Storing lenses in the proper lens storage case and replacing your case every three months; in addition cases should be rubbed with clean fingers, rinsed with solution, dried with a tissue, and stored upside down every night;
    • Using fresh solution to clean and store contact lenses—never re-use old solution;
    • Using products recommended by your eye doctor to clean and disinfect your lenses; and
    • Removing contact lenses before exposing them to water.

Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

Say No to Decorative, Non-Corrective Lenses

Decorative, non-corrective lenses found in the neighborhood store may look like a fun way to change your look for school or a special event, but it’s important that kids (and adults) are not fooled. Optometrists are increasingly concerned about the illegal sale and use of decorative or non-corrective contact lenses, which are still classified as medical devices and pose the same potential safety and health risks as corrective contact lenses.

  • Health Rules to Follow if You Wear ContactsOften times, decorative contact lenses are acquired illegally – through street vendors, flea markets, or beauty supply stores – without an eye doctor’s prescription and guidance.
  • When purchased illegally, these contact lenses often don’t meet quality and safety standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is a major concern for optometrists.
  • These lenses are not merely a fashion or costume accessory, decorative contact lens wearers who don’t follow the guidelines for use and wear can experience symptoms such as blurred or fuzzy vision; red or irritated eyes; pain in and around the eyes or, a more serious condition where the cornea becomes inflamed, also known as keratitis. These problems can lead to significant damage to the eye’s ability to function, and even irreversible sight loss.

Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

Quality Eye Care is Key

  • The American Optometric Association represents approximately 39,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities, they are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.
  • Optometrists are the guardians of family eye and vision health, who take a leading role in an individual’s overall eye care, health and well-being; performing nearly 70 percent of first-time eye examinations for Americans. Optometrists are on the frontline of medical eye and vision care and provide a range of services including:
    • Performing comprehensive eye exams;
    • Diagnosing and treating eye diseases; and
    • Recognizing symptoms of systemic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • In conducting comprehensive eye exams, doctors of optometry can often see indications of potential health problems that can affect the whole body.
  • Optometrists provide a lifetime of vision care and play a key role in a patient’s total quality of life. Proper vision can affect how well a person functions and succeeds in life. Poor vision has been linked to developmental problems. Yearly eye exams are important for eye and vision health.
  • Contact lens wearers should have comprehensive eye exams annually and stay in close contact with their eye doctor to ensure appropriate and up-to-date clinical guidance based on individual eye health needs.

Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

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It’s true that Contact lenses are among the safest, most popular forms of vision correction. In fact, nearly 41 million adults in the U.S. (more than one in ten people) and 125 million people worldwide wear contact lenses today. And they are not just for adults, either. Many children also benefit from wearing contact lenses. In fact, optometrists agree that most children between the ages of 10-12 are mature enough to wear and care for contact lenses, in some cases, children even younger than age 10 are ready for independent contact lens wear. Equipping your child with all of the information they need to care for their lenses and their eyes will guarantee their vision being protected well into adulthood.

Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

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To learn more health rules to follow if you wear contacts, including healthy eye care habits for you and your family, visit the American Optometric Association  website here.

Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Health Rules to Follow if You Wear Contacts

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