Contact Lens Handling & Maintenance

Contact Lens insertion and removal videos

Soft contact lens insertion, removal and care (by Moorfields Eye Hospital)

Rigid gas permeable lens insertion, removal and care (by Moorfields Eye Hospital)

Contact Lens Hygeine

Following the correct hygiene procedures is crucial to successful and safe contact lens wear. Comfort and performance will be affected if you extend the life of your lenses beyond the recommended replacement interval or if they are not cleaned and disinfected with the correct solutions. Wearing dirty or damaged lenses can put your eye health at risk.

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The aim of the disinfecting and cleaning solutions is to reduce the number of microorganisms that accumulate on the lenses with wear, therefore minimising the risk of infection with contact lenses. Cleaning solutions can also improve comfort by conditioning the lens surface and making it more wettable.  A ‘rub and rinse’ step with solution is usually also recommended as part of your lens care regime, before you put the lenses on your eyes and before you store them.

Make sure you empty the lens case of solution after each use, clean and air-dry it, then replace with fresh solution each time the lenses need to be stored.

Types of Contact Lens Solutions

There are many types and brands of contact lens solution, each with different ingredients and for specific lens types. It’s important to use the solution recommended for your contact lenses at the time of your fitting.

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Multipurpose solutions are the simplest and most convenient type of contact lens solution and are designed to clean, rub, rinse and store lenses. The minimum storage time to ensure adequate disinfection varies but is generally four to six hours.

Hydrogen peroxide solutions work in a different way and incorporate a metallic disc in the case, or tablet to add to the solution, to neutralise the disinfectant before wear. The minimum storage time is usually six hours. With these solutions it’s particularly important to follow the instructions to avoid problems.

Other lens care products include special cleaning drops and tablets, usually for annual replacement soft lenses or rigid lenses, and comfort and re-wetting drops, which can be used with contact lenses on the eye.

Saline solutions are sometimes recommended for rinsing contact lenses before they are applied to the eye but should not be used for storing lenses. No other solutions, including any type of water, or saliva, should come into contact with your contact lenses or storage case.

Contact lenses & Swimming

The BCLA (British Contact Lens Association) advice for contact lens wearers is: ‘to not wear contact lenses for swimming – or in hot tubs or whilst showering or participating in water sports – unless wearing tight-fitting goggles over the top. After swimming – or if lenses are removed and stored whilst swimming – contact lenses should be cleaned and disinfected in fresh solution before putting them back on the eyes. The BCLA recommendation is that regular swimmers talk to their eyecare practitioner about being fitted with daily disposable lenses for use with goggles whilst swimming. Wearers of daily disposable contact lenses should always discard them immediately after swimming.’

How to tell if a soft contact lens is inside out

Hold the contact lens on the tip of your dry finger. If the lens turns slightly in at the edges it’s the correct way around – if the edges turn slightly out and the lens looks unusually flat it’s inside out. A lens that’s inside out will generally feel slightly uncomfortable on the eye and will move more than usual.

Infection and contact lenses

Good hygiene and not wearing your lenses overnight are the most important factors in minimising the risk of infection. Poor hygiene increases the chance of an infection by four times. Sleeping in contact lenses overnight also increases the risk by about four times and should always be avoided if you’re unwell. Daily disposable lenses have a low rate of serious infection.

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Occasionally you may experience mild discomfort or redness with your lenses. If discomfort is caused by a dirty, dusty or damaged lens, or by the lens being inside out, symptoms will usually improve when the lens is removed.

More serious problems such as corneal infection, affecting the clear tissue at the front of the eye are very unusual but can cause irritation, pain, redness, watery eyes or discharge. The eyes may also be sensitive to light and vision may be blurred. In almost all cases of infection, removing the contact lens does not relieve the symptoms. If you are suffering from these symptoms you must make an URGENT appointment to see your contact lens specialist or go to the nearest Eye Hospital A&E.

Important do’s and don’ts for contact lens wearers
as recommended by the BCLA – British Contact Lens Association.

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