According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 13 million Australians, or 55% of us have a visual impairment, so it’s not surprising that so many of us wear glasses or contact lenses. Contact lenses can be a great way to correct your eyesight without the hassle of carrying around glasses but there are steps you should take to make sure you keep your contact lenses clean.
Contact lenses are small pieces of plastic that cover the eye and correct many vision problems. Most people who wear glasses can wear contact lenses. If you’re not comfortable wearing glasses, contact lenses might be a good option for you. Some people choose contact lenses because they think that glasses make them look less attractive or they find glasses annoying. People who play sport regularly often find contact lenses more convenient than glasses. If you do decide to get contact lenses, it’s important to get them from an optometrist as they can make sure you get the correct contact lens prescription.
Most contact lenses are either soft lenses or hard lenses. Soft lenses are flexible and absorb water to mould to the shape of the eye. They are usually disposable and can last anywhere from one day to one month. Hard lenses are more rigid and only cover the cornea of the eye. There are also extended wear contact lenses that you can wear for a month without removal.
Inserting contact lenses
You should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling your contact lenses.
The Better Health Channel Victoria outlines the general guidelines for inserting contact lenses including:
- tipping the lens from the storage case into your cupped palm
- check the lens for rips or grit
- put the lens on your finger, cup-side up
- hold your eyelid open
- look up
- pop the lens onto the white of your eyeball (rigid lens are usually best placed directly onto the cornea)
- let go of your eyelid
- look down and blink to position the lens over your cornea
Looking after your contact lenses
Cleaning your contact lenses
You should make sure you handle your contact lenses gently as they’re quite delicate. It’s also important to follow your eye care practitioner’s instructions for looking after your contact lenses as different lenses need different types of care. You’ll need to use different cleaning solutions for different contact lenses. If you use the wrong type of solution, it can damage your contact lenses and even your eyesight. You shouldn’t clean your lenses with tap water, saliva, detergent, soap, or household disinfectant. It’s important to keep your contact lenses clean as poor lens hygiene can cause eye infections.
You also shouldn’t wear your contact lenses for any longer than you’ve been advised by your eye care professional.
Tips for wearing contact lenses at work
If you wear contact lenses at work, you no doubt have come up against several common problems. These can include dust or dirt that won’t budge, an eyelash that’s go into an awkward spot or dry eyes from staring at a screen for too long without blinking. There are a few tips you can follow to stop these problems:
- adjust your computer screen to make sure it’s clear and focused
- keep a 45 – 80cm distance between your eyes and the computer screen
- control the glare that reflects off your screen (brightness and contrast)
- try to turn down really bright lights in the office to minimise glare and reflection
What to keep with you at work
It’s also a good idea to keep a few items stashed in your desk draw or work bag to make sure they’re always handy. These should include:
- lubricant eye drops to refresh your eyes
- a pack of dailies or weeklies
- a lint-free cloth
- back up pair of glasses if your eyes are so irritated you can’t get the contact lenses back in
Looking after your eyes
If you don’t use contact lenses correctly, you could end up with one of the following symptoms:
- inflammation of the eyes
- sore, red or watery eyes
- eye infections
- dry eyes
- further vision problems
- allergic reactions
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to remove the lenses straight away and contact your doctor, optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Whether you choose to wear contact lenses or glasses, there are things you can do to help care for and protect your eyes. These include:
- wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV light
- avoiding looking directly at the sun
- avoiding rubbing or scratching your eyes
- eating a healthy diet full of antioxidants
- using eye protection if you work in environment where there’s a risk of getting something in your eye
- avoiding smoking as it’s linked to several eye conditions
Where to get more help
If you have questions or concerns about wearing contact lenses, it’s a good idea to speak to your optometrist. You can also talk to your GP or ophthalmologist.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified health care professional.