Only 2 percent of contact lens wearers actually follow the guidelines for proper contact lens hygiene according to a new study published in the journal Optometry and Vision Science. The study also revealed that more than 80 percent of those who participated in the study erroneously believed that they followed good cleaning practices. Not surprisingly, 72 percent of those surveyed said they had experienced discomfort from their lenses and 47 percent reported having had an infection from wearing their lenses. Among the list of infractions committed by contact lens wearers is sleeping with the contact lenses still in, not replacing the solution in the contact lens case every day with fresh solution and rarely or never replacing the lens case. Failure to follow a proper hygiene protocol for contact lens use can result in mild problems such as conjunctivitis (also known as "pink eye") to potentially blinding eye infections caused by E. coli or Acanthamoeba. Such potential eye infections can be avoided by following these guidelines:
- Always wash your hands and dry thoroughly with a lint-free towel before handling your lenses.
- Try to avoid bathing or swimming with your contact lenses in.
- Always store your lenses in the proper saline solution and not just water.
- Do not use saliva to moisten your lenses.
- Saline solution does not disinfect your lenses.
- Follow the proper disposal and replacement schedule as set by your eye care provider.
- Always rinse your contacts with solution and not water and allow your case to air-dry. The case should be replaced every three months at the very minimum.