Acanthamoeba keratitis: What contact lens wearers need to know


Acanthamoeba eye infections in contact lens wearers are rare but serious – for example, a Denver woman lost sight in one eye after contracting the amoeba while swimming – and these infections often start because of improper lens handling and poor hygiene.

Advanced Acanthamoeba keratitis can cause a white “ring” to cover the iris, as well as redness in the white of the eye. (Also read about conjunctivitis, another cause of eye redness.)

If you have eye pain, eye redness that won’t clear up with drops, blurry vision, light sensitivity, excessive tearing or feel as if there is something in your eye, you should see your eye doctor.

If untreated, Acanthamoeba keratitis will lead to severe pain and possible vision loss or blindness. In the case of the Denver woman, Stacey Peoples needed a corneal transplant. She now has normal vision with glasses, according to a Today story.

To avoid Acanthamoeba

and all contact lens-related eye infections, be sure to carefully follow the lens care, handling and wearing instructions you receive from your eye doctor.

What is Acanthamoeba keratitis?

Acanthamoeba are naturally occurring amoeba (tiny, one-celled animals) commonly found in water sources, such as tap water, well water, swimming pools, hot tubs, and soil and sewage systems.

If these tiny parasites infect the eye, Acanthamoeba keratitis results.

First diagnosed in 1973, an estimated 85 percent of U.S. Acanthamoeba keratitis cases affect contact lens users, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the developed world, the incidence of Acanthamoeba keratitis is approximately one to 33 cases per million contact lens wearers.

That incidence may be increasing, though.

UK researchers at University College London found that rates of Acanthamoeba keratitis have nearly tripled since 2011 in the southeast of England. Moorfields Eye Hospital, where cases across the southeast of England are treated, recorded an average of 50.3 cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis.

Acanthamoeba outbreaks among contact lens wearers

In recent years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other researchers have noted sporadic outbreaks of Acanthamoeba keratitis cases among contact lens wearers.

In 2007, for example, the CDC released several public health warnings regarding Acanthamoeba keratitis associated with use of the contact lens solution Complete MoisturePlus, manufactured by Abbott Medical Optics (AMO) — formerly Advanced Medical Optics.

The CDC said a sevenfold increase in the risk of developing Acanthamoeba keratitis associated with use of the contact lens solution prompted AMO to withdraw Complete MoisturePlus from the market. The contact lens solution itself was not contaminated, but it seemed to be ineffective in preventing Acanthamoeba keratitis.

The CDC has issued similar warnings concerning fungal eye infections associated with the use of Bausch + Lomb’s ReNu With MoistureLoc contact lens solution, which was removed from worldwide markets in May 2006.

In 2011, the CDC and state and local health officials investigated unusual clusters of Acanthamoeba keratitis cases to find common risk factors to reduce future infections. The preliminary analysis found contact lens hygiene practices played a role but did not result in a call to stop the sales of any contact lens-related products.

What causes Acanthamoeba keratitis?

Factors and activities that increase the risk of contracting Acanthamoeba keratitis include using contaminated tap or well water on contact lenses, using homemade solutions to store and clean contacts, wearing contact lenses in a hot tub and swimming or showering while wearing lenses.

Acanthamoeba is a single-cell organism that exists in nature in two forms: an active, growing form (left) and a dormant, stress resistant cyst (right). (Images: Morales, Khan and Walochnik , via Wikimedia Commons)

A dirty lens case also can be a source of Acanthamoeba infection.

In addition, some scientists theorize that new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at reducing carcinogenic (potentially cancer-causing) products such as disinfectants in the water supply may have inadvertently boosted microbial risks, including an increased likelihood of finding Acanthamoeba in water supplies.

Other researchers associate recent increases in contact lens-related eye infections with the introduction of “no-rub” lens care systems that may result in less effective contact lens cleaning and disinfection.

But regardless of the cause of the increase, Acanthamoeba can be killed easily, especially when rubbed off the lens surface during cleaning. In the end, good contact lens hygiene is the best way to prevent Acanthamoeba keratitis.

How do you know if you have Acanthamoeba keratitis?

Symptoms of Acanthamoeba keratitis include red eyes and eye pain after removing your contact lenses, as well as tearing, light sensitivity, blurred vision and a feeling that something is in your eye.

With these types of symptoms, you should always contact your eye doctor. But keep in mind that Acanthamoeba keratitis is often difficult for your eye doctor to diagnose at first, because its symptoms are similar to pink eye symptoms and those of other eye infections.

Diagnosis of keratitis often occurs once it is determined that the condition is resistant to antibiotics used to manage other infections. A “ring-like” ulceration of your corneal tissue may also occur.

Unfortunately, if not promptly treated, Acanthamoeba keratitis can cause permanent vision loss or require a corneal transplant to recover lost vision.

How you can reduce the risk of getting Acanthamoeba keratitis

There are several easy ways to greatly reduce the chance of getting this sight-threatening condition — and, in fact, any type of contact lens-related eye infection:

Remember to also clean and sterilize your lens cases, to avoid Acanthamoeba contamination.

  1. Follow your eye doctor’s recommendations regarding care of your contact lenses. Use only products that he or she recommends.
  2. Never use tap water with your contact lenses. The has recommended that contact lenses should not be exposed to water of any kind.
  3. Do not swim, shower or use a hot tub while wearing contacts. If you do decide to wear your lenses while swimming, wear airtight swim goggles over them. (Read about additional strategies for swimming with contact lenses.)
  4. Soak your lenses in fresh disinfecting solution every night. Don’t use a wetting solution or saline solution that isn’t intended for disinfection.
  5. Always wash your hands before handling your lenses.
  6. Always clean your contacts immediately upon removal (unless you are wearing disposable contact lenses that are replaced daily). To clean your lenses, rub the lenses under a stream of multipurpose solution — even if using a “no-rub” solution — and store them in a clean case filled with fresh (not “topped off”) multipurpose or disinfecting solution.

Take care of your contact lens case

Cleanliness and proper care are equally important for contact lens cases.

It’s important to clean, rinse and air-dry your contact lens case immediately after removing your lenses from the case. Discard the old solution and rub the inside wells of the case with clean fingers for at least five seconds. Then fill the case with multipurpose solution or sterile saline (not tap or bottled water), dump this out, and store the case upside down with the caps off.

As an extra precaution, you might want to consider sterilizing your empty contact lens case once a week by submerging it in boiling water for a few minutes.

Many eye doctors also say you should discard and replace your contact lens case monthly or, at a minimum, every three months to help prevent contamination.

Prevention is your best defense against Acanthamoeba keratitis. Always use good hygiene during contact lens use and care. And if you notice any unusual eye symptoms that might indicate an infection, immediately consult your eye doctor.

Page updated September 24, 2018

Schedule an exam.

Find an eye doctor near you. Notes and References

Contact lenses. U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. Page last updated in September 2013.

Diagnosis and successful medical treatment of Acanthamoeba keratitis. Archives of Ophthalmology. September 1995.

If you wear contact lenses, you probably take them for granted—you put them in when you get up, go about your life as usual, and take them out at the end of the day. But, as one woman discovered, those little lenses can cause serious issues if they’re used improperly.

Meabh McHugh-Hill, a student in Liverpool, England started using contacts when she was 16. Now 23, the more McHugh-Hill wore contacts, the more prone she was to dry eyes and eye infections, she tells The Mirror. But things recently escalated in a painful way when she suffered eye damage after her contact lens dried out and became glued to her eye. McHugh-Hill realized she had left her lenses in for too long and, while hastily trying to remove them, accidentally tore her left eye’s cornea, the transparent layer of the front of her eye.

“I suffered a week of unbearable pain—it was excruciating, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” McHugh-Hill said. Her doctors told her that because she’d taken out her contacts when her eye lacked enough moisture, she pulled the top layer of her eye away, giving herself a corneal ulcer, i.e. an abscess or sore on the eye.

“When took a proper look, they said I had scratched an entire layer off my whole eye,” she says. “The pain was intense. I wasn’t able to do much else besides stay in bed with the curtains drawn for the five days that followed.”

Now, McHugh-Hill says her vision is OK, but her left eye still has a scar, is very sensitive, and she’s not able to wear contacts in it. “I was so, so lucky,” she said. “I could have lost my sight. I just didn’t realize how dangerous wearing contact lenses could be if your eyes are not moistened.”

First things first, don’t freak: This is a pretty rare occurrence. “Of the 125 or so patients I see in a week, this may happen only three to four times a year,” Eric Q. Williams, O.D., of Katzen Eye Group, tells SELF.

But contact lens wearers should be aware this does happen, John Minardi, O.D., of Katzen Eye Group, tells SELF. “The reason that it sticks to the eye is that the lens dehydrates, or ‘dries out,’ and becomes much tighter,” he explains. “The tighter the lens, the less movement the lens will have to allow the exchange of the tear film beneath the lens. This can cause to cornea to swell slightly and make the lens fit tighter still.”

Jeffrey J. Walline, O.D., Ph.D., the associate dean for research at The Ohio State University College of Optometry, tells SELF that the risk is greater for people who nap or sleep in their contact lenses. “Sometimes when we sleep, the contact lenses lose water, causing them to fit tighter and stick to the cornea,” he says. “If you remove a contact lens in this situation, it can pull off the outer layer of the cornea and cause poor vision and extreme pain.”

Failure to clean your lenses properly can also contribute to the problem, Williams says. Protein deposits can accumulate on the surface of a lens if it’s not cleaned properly, which makes it sticky and more likely to be difficult to remove, he says.

However, if your contact lenses do dry out, there are a few things you can do to lower the risk of damaging your eyes during the removal process. Minardi recommends washing your hands and then rinsing your eye with saline or multi-purpose contact lens solution for several seconds. Then, close your eye and gently massage your eyelid. Repeat the process until your lens starts to move, then remove it the way you normally would.

9 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Contact Lenses

Corbis Images

For those of us not endowed with 20/20 vision, corrective lenses are a fact of life. Sure, eyeglasses are easy to throw on, but they can be impractical (ever tried to do hot yoga while wearing a pair?). Contact lenses, on the other hand, are better suited for sweaty activities, beach days, and date nights, which may explain why more than 30 million Americans choose to wear them.

But those slippery plastic discs come with a slew of issues of their own. After all, you can’t just pop them in without a second thought-contact lenses are a medical device, reminds Thomas Steinemann, M.D., and professor at Case Western Reserve University. The problem: Lots of us do just pop ’em in and forget about ’em. We also tend to believe seriously risky myths (“I can keep these in overnight!”, “Water works as contact solution, right?”) that could hurt our eyes big time. So it’s time to set the record straight-make sure you’re keeping your peepers in tip-top shape by learning the truth about common contact misconceptions.

Myth: Lenses Can Be Worn Past the Recommended Time Limit

Reality: Overwear is common, but not the way to go. “Many people try to extend the use of their contacts to save money, but that’s penny-wise and pound-foolish,” Steinemann says. The reason: Lenses get worn out and coated with germs. Over time, this can cause infections. So if your lenses are supposed to be replaced after two weeks, don’t wear them for a month! (Same goes for dailies-they need to be thrown out each night.)

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Myth: You Don’t Really Need to Clean Your Lenses Each Day

Reality: If you have lenses that need to be cleaned daily, do it, well, daily-and dump out the old solution. First, always wash your hands with soap and water, Steinemann says. Then, after you put the contacts in, clean the case, rubbing it with a clean finger and solution in the morning, then letting it air dry during the day. At night, wash your hands, take out your contacts, and let them soak in fresh (not used!) solution overnight. Not taking these steps can put you at serious risk for keratitis, research shows.

Sound like too much effort for your busy life? (We know how it goes.) Dailies may be a better idea. “They may cost a little more upfront, but in the long run, the price will even out since you’ll save on the cost of cases and lens solutions,” Steinemann says.

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Myth: Tap Water Works as Contact Solution in a Pinch

Reality: “This is absolutely forbidden,” Steinemann says. Even if your tap water is safe enough to drink, it’s not sterile enough to clean contacts with. The reason: Water can contain a parasite called an acanthamoeba-and if this organism gets in your eye, it can cause a serious cornea infection called acanthamoeba keratitis, which is difficult to treat, and may even lead to blindness, studies suggest. Oh, and we hope this is obvious, but never spit on your lenses to clean them either!

Myth: You Can Shower (and Swim) in Them

Reality: Since the acanthamoeba parasite is commonly found in multiple water sources, this means you really shouldn’t wear contacts while you shower, let alone swim. “If you do swim in contacts, take them out as soon as you get out after washing your hands thoroughly,” Steinemann says. Throw them away, or clean and disinfect them overnight before wearing them again. Bottom line: Water and contacts don’t mix. (Also, if you’re still showering with super hot water, cut it out! This is The Case for Cold Showers.)

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Myth: Colored Cosmetic Lenses Are Safe

Reality: Turning your eyes golden to go with your Twilight Halloween costume isn’t worth it. “It’s actually illegal to sell cosmetic contacts without giving an official assessment and fitting by an eye doctor,” Steinemann says. Why? The size and shape of your cornea partly determines what type of lens you should wear-if they don’t fit correctly, they can rub and cause microabrasions, which can let in germs that cause infections. Bottom line: Skip the illegal cosmetic lenses, and instead get them through an eye doctor or other eye care professional, who can give you a prescription.

Myth: You Only Need to See Your Doc Every Couple of Years

Reality: Go at least annually to check your prescription, which is only good for one year, Steinemann says. Other than that, listen to your body. If you’re experiencing any light sensitivity, redness, or pain, take out your contacts and see a doctor ASAP. It could be anything from allergies to an infection from bacteria, fungus, or even an amoeba-and if you wait too long, you could run into serious trouble, Steinemann says. For information on healthy contact lens wear, check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

  • By Brooke Blue

Keratitis and the Dangers of Overwearing Your Contacts

Is it really dangerous to wear contact lenses longer than recommended?

What is keratitis?

Keratitis is an inflammation of the clear, front surface of the eye called the cornea. Keratitis can cause symptoms such as redness, pain, light sensitivity, a scratchy or gritty feeling, blurred or hazy vision and watering. Keratitis can be caused by infection from bacteria, viruses or fungus and is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.

Keratitis can affect anyone, even if they don’t wear contact lenses, but it often results from improper contact lens wear. People who don’t clean or replace their contact lenses as directed, and people who sleep in contact lenses are much more susceptible to episodes of keratitis. Keratitis is also more common in people who wear lenses that have not been properly fitted to their eye, such as decorative costume lenses.

What to do if you’re experiencing the symptoms

Early treatment of keratitis is critical in minimizing the risk of permanent damage to the eye that could cause vision loss. If you experience any of the symptoms of keratitis, be sure to remove your contact lenses immediately and get in to see an eye doctor (an optometrist or ophthalmologist) as soon as possible. Your eye doctor will use a high-powered microscope to examine your eye, and may need to put colored dye into your eye to better visualize the corneal tissue. Primary care doctors or urgent treatment centers often do not have the specialized equipment or training needed to diagnose keratitis, so it is important to see an eye doctor.

Depending on the nature and cause of the keratitis, your eye doctor will prescribe eye drops, and sometimes oral medications to help heal your eye. These medications may include antibiotics, antivirals or steroids, as well as medications to help control the pain. Since keratitis can be so threatening to vision, careful monitoring of the healing is often required.

Many people are guilty of improperly wearing contact lenses, and often feel like there is no risk in over wearing their lenses. Any patient who has experienced an episode of keratitis can vouch for the fact that the risk is very real.

In a perfect world, your contacts would seamlessly meld onto your eyeballs without ever causing you discomfort. In reality, sometimes it can feel like your contacts, in a mission to aggravate your eyeballs, are wearing the tiniest, scratchiest wool sweaters of all time.

Here are some of the biggest issues that could be behind your scratchy lenses, along with how to fix them.

1. You have dry eye.

Dry eye happens when your eyes can’t adequately lubricate themselves because the amount or quality of your tears isn’t up to par, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).

This can cause a bunch of symptoms including dryness, itchiness, and scratchiness, and wearing contacts can just make it all worse, Jennifer Fogt, O.D., fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and an associate professor in the College of Optometry at The Ohio State University, tells SELF.

As a foreign body, contacts can irritate and dry out your eyes no matter how great your ocular health typically is. “Adding a contact lens to an eye that is already dry makes this condition even more uncomfortable,” Dr. Fogt says. This is especially true if you do something like work at a computer all day, because you’ll naturally blink less often than you should when staring at a screen for prolonged periods, the NEI explains, which is why your contacts might feel especially bothersome as you wrap up the workday.

If you’re really struggling with dry eye, it’s probably best to get that sorted before you wear your contacts again, Dr. Fogt says. Treatment typically starts with artificial tears that can add moisture to your eyes, along with making lifestyle changes like wearing sunglasses when it’s windy outside. Your doctor can help you determine what will help your eyes the most.

2. You have allergies.

When you have allergies, interacting with a trigger like pollen, dust mites, or mold will prompt the cells in your immune system to release chemicals that lead to symptoms such as itchy, weepy, and overall terrible-feeling eyes, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

If you use contacts, that can take the scratchiness up a notch. Contact lenses can trap allergens and hold them against your eyeballs, Carolyn Duong, O.D., an ophthalmologist with UCLA Health, tells SELF, which can make symptoms flare up. If you use your lenses for days on end, these allergens can build up on them over time, particularly if you’re, ahem, not the best at cleaning your contacts or your case. (That’s why Dr. Duong often recommends that people with bad allergies wear daily disposable lenses they can chuck at the end of the day.)

One major part in treating your allergies is staying as far away from your allergens as you humanly can. If that’s not enough (or not possible), your doctor may recommend anti-allergy medications in the form of eye drops, pills, nasal sprays, and the like, according to the Mayo Clinic. Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may also be a candidate for allergy shots, which train your body to be less responsive to your triggers over time.

3. Something on or under your contact is causing scratchiness.

If something is stuck under your contact lens, it can irritate the nerves in your cornea (the clear, outer dome of your eye), and you can feel all kinds of symptoms like pain, burning, or scratchiness, Dr. Duong says. If it’s on top of your contact, it could irritate the inside of your eyelid, resulting in a similar outcome. Either way, that irritation can build as time passes, making scratchiness that was barely noticeable in the morning seriously intense by the end of the day, Dr. Duong says.

How to Overcome Contact Problems: Burning Eyes & Irritation

Table of Contents

    • Causes of Burning and Irritation
    • Related Medical Issues
    • Preventing and Taking Care

Contacts are considered a safe and effective medical device that are placed in the eye to improve vision and correct refractive errors. They can sometimes cause burning or irritation, however.

Common causes of contact problems can simply be related to damaged or improperly fit contacts or an allergic reaction to the contact lens cleaning solution. Common allergens like dust and pollen can collect underneath contact lenses and cause the eyes to be irritated, especially if you suffer from allergies. (Learn More)

Almost everyone who wears contacts — 99 percent, according to a survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — engages in at least one poor hygiene behavior that raises the risk for inflammation or eye infection.

Not washing your hands before inserting contacts or not cleaning or storing your contacts as directed can cause bacteria to build up on the lenses. This can lead to a potential eye infection, which then leads to eye irritation and burning. Corneal swelling and dry eyes can be exacerbated by contacts and may indicate an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed. (Learn More)

If your eyes burn or become irritated after putting in contacts, take them out and use glasses. (Learn More) If the irritation doesn’t improve or persists, seek medical attention.

You can help to minimize potential eye irritation and contact problems by taking care of the lenses, using them as directed, and following proper hygienic techniques. Contact problems can often be overcome by talking with your eye doctor and potentially changing your prescription, proper contact care, and treatment of any eye-related medical issues. (Learn More)

Causes of Burning and Irritation From Contacts

Per the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the following are common causes of eye irritation and burning after inserting contacts into your eyes:

  • Lenses that don’t fit properly
  • Damaged contacts
  • Allergy to the contact lens cleaning or storage solution
  • Eye infection
  • Swelling of the cornea
  • Sensitivity to tear protein deposits in the lenses

Seasonal allergies or allergies to common things, such as dust or pollen, can lead to burning eyes and irritation. When you wear contacts, these allergens can become trapped under the lens and lead to further irritation and redness.

Sometimes, if your eyes burn and become irritated after putting in contacts, it can be related to an underlying medical issue.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that six out of every seven people who wear contacts do at least one thing that increases their risk for eye infection. Close to half (45 percent) of adult contact lens wearers continue wearing contacts beyond their shelf-life and don’t replace them on the recommended schedule.

Contacts are not permanent. They are meant to be disposed of and replaced at regular intervals. Daily disposable contacts are only designed to be worn once, for example. Other contacts may be reused for a set number of days, such as up to a week or a month.

Most contacts are intended for daily use. They are to be taken out and cleaned each night and then stored in a special solution overnight before being placed in the eyes in the morning. Improper cleaning and storage, not washing your hands before touching your eyes or contacts, or wearing your contacts for longer or more uses than directed can raise the odds for an eye infection.

Even wearing contact lenses that are approved for extended wear overnight can elevate the risk for infection. Common eye infections, such as conjunctivitis or pink eye, can be caused by bacterial buildup on the contacts and infect the eyes.

There are about 1 million visits to doctors for eye infections related to the wearing of contacts, The Guardian publishes. Symptoms of an eye infection often include burning and irritated eyes.

Another common cause of irritation and burning eyes related to contact wear are dry eyes. Contacts can block the flow of oxygen to the eyes, which can cause the eyes to become dry and irritated as a result.

Dry eyes can be chronic and the result of poor tear production or a medical condition, such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. AOA reports that dry eyes can also be caused by the long-term use of contacts.

Swelling in the outer layer of the eye, the cornea, can also result in eye irritation and burning sensations that can be exacerbated by contact lens wear. Trauma to the eye, exposure to toxins, ocular surgery, and endothelial disorders such as Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy, which causes endothelial cells to die off, can be common causes of corneal swelling.

Eye irritation and burning may be caused by the contacts, or it may be the result of a medical problem that is being magnified by contact lens wear. Either way, it needs to be addressed and corrected.

Preventing and Taking Care of Contact Problems

If you experience a burning sensation or eye irritation when you put in your contacts or at any point throughout the day, you should take them out immediately. You may have debris underneath the lenses and flushing your eyes can help remove it. Try washing your contacts thoroughly and inspecting them for damage before putting them back in.

You will need to let your eyes rest for a bit to reduce the irritation. It is often best to switch to eyeglasses in the meantime.

If your contacts continue to irritate you, consider changing them out. They may be damaged or have bacterial buildup. Change your cleaning and storage solutions regularly too.

If you are using a new cleaning or storage solution, you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to the chemicals and may need to try a different type or brand. The same can be true of the contacts themselves. If contacts aren’t properly fitted to your eyes, they can cause burning and irritation. Your eye doctor can help you obtain the right fit and decide if you need to switch contact types or brands. Only wear contacts that have been fitted to you and are prescribed to you directly.

Use proper hand-washing and hygiene techniques when handling your contacts. Follow the care and usage guide provided by your eye care professional. Use the solution designed for your contact brand and type.

Only use your contacts for as long as directed. Clean and store them properly and replace them on the recommended schedule. This can help to prevent bacterial buildup and possible eye irritations.

If you suffer from chronic dry eyes or allergies, there are some brands or types of contacts that may be a better fit than others. Switching from a soft contact lens to a rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lens can help oxygen to flow more freely to and from the eye. This may be better suited for tear production.

It can take a few attempts to find the most comfortable type and brand of contact for you. It is also possible that contacts are not the right vision improvement solution for you. In some cases, laser eye surgery may give you a better long-term solution. Your ophthalmologist can help you determine what the best option will be for your situation.

Fast Facts. (July 2018). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why Do My Eyes Burn After Inserting My Contacts? (February 2015). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Facts and Stats. (August 2017). American Optometric Association.

Healthy Vision and Contact Lenses. (2019). American Optometric Association.

How Safe Are Contact Lenses? (November 2014). The Guardian.

Dry Eye. (2019). American Optometric Association.

A Curious Case of Corneal Edema. (January 2007). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Contacts causing a red ring in eye…

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Adapting to Your Contact Lenses

As you become adjusted to wearing contact lenses for the first time, you will experience several normal adaptation symptoms. Most, if not all, of these symptoms are associated with the normal protective reflex of the eye to produce more tears in response to a foreign object (your contact lens) in the eye. Some of the most common symptoms associated with this “reflex tearing” include:

  • Vision seems indistinct or hazy (like looking through water)
  • Lenses become filmy – This is due to the protein and lipids in your tears becoming attached to the surface of your contact lens.
  • Eyes are itchy – The eyes are sensitive to this protein film.
  • Eyes are red – A mild amount of redness or injection during your adaptation period is normal.

All of these symptoms associated with excess reflex tearing tend to disappear as you become more “adapted” to your lenses. The adaptation process is related to your wearing time. As you build up more wearing time, the eye becomes less sensitized to the presence of your contact lenses. A lower sensitivity results in less reflex tearing, resulting in less protein and lipid buildup on your lenses. You should not wear your lenses for a longer period than the wearing schedule your doctor prescribed for you, but you can wear them less if you develop excessive symptoms. The most important aspect of your break in period is to gradually but consistently increase your wearing time.

Although most symptoms associated with the initial wear of your contacts are normal and to be expected, there are certain symptoms which are abnormal. If you experience these you should discontinue wearing your lenses until your doctor can evaluate the cause. These symptoms include:

  • Pain – Although awareness of the lens and its movement on the eye is normal, pain or excessive discomfort is not.
  • Excessive Redness – It may be difficult to judge whether redness is normal or excessive, but if the redness concerns you or is readily noticeable by others, you should discontinue wear.
  • Discharge – Any whitish or thick stringy discharge in your eyes or on your lids is not normal. Discontinue wear immediately.
  • Excessive Blur – Other than a mild fuzziness associated with reflex tearing, blurring of your vision is not normal. After checking to see if you may have accidentally switched your contacts in the wrong eye, discontinue wear. Your vision should remain at least as clear as it had tested at the time you received your lenses.

Adapting to your contacts should be accomplished with minimal discomfort and blur. A good rule of thumb to remember if you are unsure whether your symptoms are normal or not is:

“When in doubt, take them out”

If you’ve ever slept in your contact lenses, worn disposable lenses past the prescribed replacement schedule, or gone for a dip in the community pool without removing contacts from your eyes first, it’s time to rethink your habits.

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Why? Because poor choices can lead to serious infections in some cases, says Cleveland Clinic optometrist Reecha Kampani, OD.

About 80 to 90 percent of contact lens-related eye infections are bacterial. Many involve a common and tough-to-treat bacteria known as staphylococcus aureus.

But the most severe may be pseudomonas aeruginosa, a fast-growing bacterial infection that can lead to a hole in your cornea. Unfortunately, patients who get this infection have a high chance of permanent scarring and vision loss.

Beyond bacteria, fungal infections such as aspergillus or fusariam are also potentially threats to your vision. Sometimes they are caused by trauma to the eye, but poor contact lens hygiene can lead to these fungal infections, too.

The good news: You can usually avoid these health problems by knowing what to watch for and by practicing good habits.

Watch for signs of infection

Signs of an eye infection include red, painful eyes, watering or discharge, light sensitivity, blurred vision or the sensation that a foreign body is in your eye, Dr. Kampani says.

If you have these symptoms, get checked out by a doctor immediately. Your vision is too important to risk long-term damage from an infection.

RELATED: Where the Germs Are

Water is a no-no

Whenever she fits patients for contact lenses, Dr. Kampani shares the rule of the three “S’s”: don’t sleep, swim or shower in your lenses.

The second two “S’s” apply to water. Water may contain pathogens or pollutants that cause the infections outlined above, so be careful not to get any in your eye — especially while wearing contacts.

Swimming presents specific problems. Pools, lakes and even hot tubs may harbor bacteria and microbes that can produce a serious infection, such as acanthamoeba keratitis, which is caused by a free-swimming amoeba. This type of infection can cause visual impairment or even blindness.

RELATED: 8 Smart Hygiene Habits for Contact Lens Wearers

Don’t sleep in contact lenses

First, don’t wear lenses beyond their recommended, replacement schedule. Secondly, do not sleep in lenses.

“One of the biggest problems with over-wearing or sleeping in the lenses is you’re getting less oxygen to the eye,” Dr. Kampani says. “This can lead to infection, inflammation and abrasions to the eye because the added oxidative stress makes the eye more vulnerable to various bacteria and pathogens.”

If you wear soft contact lenses, pay special attention. These lenses create the ideal condition for pathogens to grow, like a petri dish. Daily disposable soft lenses have helped reduce the risk of complications, but healthy habits are still extremely important.

Store and disinfect your lenses properly

Some people tend to reuse their cleaning and storage solution. Or they “top it off” instead of adding fresh solution to their lens cases every day. The minor savings you get from this are not worth a potential infection.

Throw out your solution and start fresh daily. And be sure to replace lens cases once every three months, too, Dr. Kampani says. Using a case for too long can add to pathogen buildup.

Try a hydrogen peroxide solution

Storing contact lenses in a hydrogen peroxide-based solution is an efficient way to reduce bacteria. These solutions, available in stores, are especially effective at cleaning lenses, Dr. Kampani says.

Various brands may have different directions for soaking the lenses, so be sure to check labels. Usually the recommendation is to store the lenses in the solution for at least four to six hours. It’s safe enough to use every day. Make sure you do not put the solution directly into the eye, or rinse the lenses without the proper supplied case.

MORE: Guide to treatment for laser vision correction

Why Do Contacts Burn?

By Gary Heiting, OD

Clean, properly fitted contact lenses should be very comfortable — to the point that you forget you are wearing them.

If your contact lenses cause a sensation of burning eyes, something is wrong. There are several possibilities, including:

Eye allergies. Eye allergies can make your eyes burn, especially if you are wearing contact lenses. Common eye irritants that cause allergies — dust, pollen and pet dander — can accumulate on and under your contacts, causing irritation and discomfort. Eye allergies typically also cause redness, itchiness and watery eyes.

Sensitivity to preservatives. It’s possible your eyes are burning because you are sensitive to the preservative or other ingredients in your contact lens solutions. Even if you have used the same contact lens solution for months or even years, it’s possible to develop a delayed sensitivity reaction that can cause a burning sensation.

Dirty contact lenses. Protein deposits and other debris accumulate on contact lenses over time, even if you properly clean and disinfect your contacts. These accumulations reduce the oxygen permeability of your lenses, which can cause eye irritation and a hot or burning sensation.

Dry eyes. Burning and other contact lens discomfort may be caused by dry eyes. Other symptoms of dry eyes include redness, scratchiness or a feeling that something is “in” your eyes (called a foreign body sensation) and watery eyes. This last symptom may seem odd, but dryness often leads to eye irritation that can cause the tear glands to produce very watery “reflex” tears that are not the same as normal tears.

The only way to know for sure what is causing your eyes to burn when wearing contacts is to visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist for an eye exam.

The treatment your eye doctor prescribes will depend on the cause of your contact lens-related burning:

  • If the cause is allergic, he or she may recommend restricting where and how long you wear your contacts or switching to .
  • If your eye burning is caused by sensitivity to your contact lens solutions, switching to a preservative-free contact lens care system should help.
  • If protein or other contact lens deposits are the cause, adding a separate lens cleaner to your care regimen or replacing your contacts more frequently should solve the problem.
  • If you have dry eyes, your doctor may recommend using lubricating , possibly combined with other dry eye treatments including , to eliminate the burning sensation. He or she might also recommend changing to a brand of .

In some cases, a combination of some or all of the above treatments may be the best solution for improving your contact lens comfort and eliminating your symptom of burning eyes.

Page updated August 2017

Find an eye doctor near you.

Gary Heiting, OD

Gary Heiting, OD, is a former senior editor of Dr. Heiting has more than 30 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear … read more

How can I make my contact lenses more comfortable?

A perfectly fit pair of contact lenses will be almost unnoticeable for hours a day. However, as the day goes on eye can become dry and irritable and maybe in need of a little extra help. For most problems, a couple of drops should refresh your eyes and keep you comfortable for longer.

Common Complaints

End of day discomfort

Many lens wearers experience discomfort towards the end of the day. Silicone hydrogel lenses have been designed to counter these problems by allowing a higher amount of oxygen to permeate the eye. Many of these specially designed lenses are also able to stay more hydrated throughout the day.

It is also common for people who experience contact lens induced dry eye to switch to a brand with lower water content. Although it sounds paradoxical, in some wearers, contact lenses with higher water content can become dryer more easily, which can exacerbate the symptoms of dry eye. Make sure you consult your optician, however, before switching lenses.

For some lens wearers end of day discomfort caused by lenses can be best resolved by reducing lens wear for a few hours a day, for example wearing your glasses in the evenings after work rather than leaving your lenses in until you go to bed.

Occasional dryness with contact lenses

Occasional eye dryness can be relieved temporarily by eye drops. However, you must make sure they are suitable for use with contact lenses. Not all drops are compatible with all lenses either, so it is important to get your optician’s advice first.

For on-going symptoms, your optician may even suggest you switch your brand of lenses to those designed to combat dry eye.

Awareness of contact lenses while on the eye

If you can feel your contact lenses while wearing them, this could simply be a poor fitting. Just as all eyes are different, so are lenses, and they must be tailored to your specific requirements. You will be aware of the lens on your eye if the diameter or base curve has not been measured accurately. Similarly, if lenses are not curved enough, they can become dislodged when you blink.

Even if you take proper care of your lenses, over time they can develop residue, which you cannot remove. This too can make you increasingly aware of your lenses.

We recommend that you remove your contact lenses and wear your glasses until you’ve had a chance to speak to your optician: sometimes a change to your care products is all that is required, or you might need to switch to daily disposable lenses.

Burning eyes when putting in lenses

Burning sensations can be a sign of contaminated lenses. As contact lenses absorb fluid, they also soak up any creams, oil, dirt or substances they come into contact with, which will sting when it touches your eye.

Always wash your hands thoroughly to prevent contamination before touching your lenses and eyes. Use soap that is free of perfumes and moisturising agents, as well as a clean towel.

Another option is to use daily disposable lenses; these prevent contamination because you discard rather than reuse them.
If you are unable to insert your lenses without experiencing discomfort we recommend that you do not wear them and consult your optician. In the meantime it would be a good idea to have a spare of glasses to wear.

Red, painful, swollen eyes which may produce discharge

If you experience painful and red, swollen eyes, and/or your eyes produce a discharge, stop wearing your lenses immediately and consult your optician. We recommend keeping a spare of glasses at home and in the office to wear encase you need to remove your lenses suddenly.

These symptoms can accompany serious eye conditions and you won’t be able to feel comfortable in your lenses until this is treated. Continued wear of your lenses may even make this worse, regardless of what caused the infection.

Operating in dry and/or dusty environments

Wearing your contact lenses in dry, dusty or dirty conditions can cause them to dry out or for irritants to get attached to your lenses. Eye drops specifically designed for use with lenses can help to keep them hydrated throughout the day.

Allergy Sufferers

Many people with allergies notice their eyes are affected when they suffer. While allergies may affect your eyes, your lenses could also be involved as dirt or particles can stick to your lenses, causing them to become a constant source of irritation. Clean your lenses regularly to avoid this.

Discuss with your optician whether you need to switch lens care products or even change to daily disposable lenses. They may even be able to prescribe eye drops to alleviate the symptoms, which can include eye twitching.

Taking medications

Many medications can cause dry eyes, specifically those for allergies and blood pressure. You may only be using medication for a short while, in which case eye drops can help rehydrate your eyes (check they are suitable for use with lenses first) or you may even consider wearing glasses temporarily.

For dry eyes caused by long term medication, speak to your doctor or optician. They may have specific lenses which they think will help, or even suggest taking supplements such as flaxseed oil.

Lens wearers who drink alcohol, coffee and/or smoke

A lot of alcohol or caffeine in your diet can mean you need to drink more water. If you don’t, your eyes will become dry and irritable. Eye dryness also brings with it other problems, such as twitching eyes.

You can choose to limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol or even by taking supplements such as flaxseed oil, which can improve your tear quality. Speak to your doctor or optician first for their recommendations.

Those who smoke are also at an increased risk of dry eye, as well as much more serious conditions such as macular degeneration.

Common Remedies

Below are some popular measures that can be taken against contact lens induced dry eye syndrome. If your eyes do not look or feel healthy, remove your lenses immediately and speak to your optician.

Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes

There are several kinds of contact lenses which might help dry eye. Your optician may suggest one of these if your lenses fit fine but you still suffer discomfort. As products evolve more rapidly, it is possible these lenses are a lot more comfortable than your old ones.

Silicone hydrogel lense: These soft lenses allow a higher amount of Oxygen to reach the eye for more comfortable wear.

Low water lenses: It might seem strange, but sometimes contact lenses with higher water content are more prone to dehydrating in dry conditions.

Daily disposable lenses: Daily disposable lenses will ensure there is no build-up on your lens, as can happen with two-weekly and monthly lenses. These are best for allergy sufferers or if your tears behave in such a way that residue clings to your lenses.

Dry eye lenses: Some brands of soft lenses are specially approved for dry eye syndrome, such as Proclear lenses from CooperVision. Your optician will also be able to recommend other brands that are believed to react well to dry eye syndrome.

Eye Drops: These are a temporary way of replenishing the fluid in your eye; however, not all eye drops can be used with contact lenses, so speak to your optician first. In some instances eye drops can also discolour lenses.

Millions of Canadians choose contact lenses over regular eyeglasses to improve their vision.

They choose contact lenses because they don’t interfere with their appearance or their active lifestyles.

Contact lenses work just like eyeglasses.

They float on a thin layer of tear film on the surface of the cornea.

They refract and focus light to enhance vision.

But wearing contact lenses on a daily basis comes with a set of risk factors.

Failing to properly use and care for your contacts can lead to excess tearing, itching, burning, sensitivity to light, dryness, distorted vision, and pain.

These consequences doesn’t automatically mean people always take proper care of their contact lenses.

Results from a 2010 study titled, Patient Compliance During Contact Lens Wear: Perceptions, Awareness and Behaviour, showed 24% of patients demonstrated non-compliance to proper contact lens wear behaviour.

That’s a lot of people.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to properly care for your contact lenses.

To easily avoid eye pain from wearing contact lenses, read our blog about What You Shouldn’t Do With Your Contact Lenses.

Improper care is one of the major reasons why you’re experiencing eye pain from wearing contact lenses.

But there are a few other reasons you should watch out for:

Dry Eyes

Sometimes the pain or discomfort you’re feeling isn’t a result of your contact lenses at all.

Your tear ducts may not produce enough tears to keep your eyes moist.

Dry eyes naturally occurs in many people.

But it’s also linked to factors such as smoking, excessive computer use, or caffeine.

Air travel, antihistamines, and birth control pills can also cause dry eyes.

You can treat dry eyes by using a lubricating solution to add moisture to your soft contact lenses.

Minimize lens dryness and your discomfort by applying rewetting drops while wearing your contacts.

Artificial tears are especially handy if you wear your contacts in a dry environment.

Environmental Allergens

Dry eyes, redness and irritation can come about from environmental allergens.

Dust or dander can affect your contact lenses causing discomfort.

You can avoid discomfort and eye pain from wearing contact lenses by making sure you remove any buildup on your lenses.

If you find this strategy isn’t working, switch to daily disposable contacts if you find this strategy isn’t working.

Poor Fit

Your eye size and shape are uniquely yours.

Just as you would wear eyeglasses that fit you perfectly, your contact lenses should aim for the same.

If you feel pain, irritation or like there’s something in your eye, your contact lenses may not fit properly.

Go to an eyecare professional so that they can use processes and procedures that promise well-fitting contact lenses.

Properly fitting lenses is just as important to avoiding eye pain from contact lenses as proper care.


People who wear contact lenses are most at risk to developing keratitis.

This inflammation of the cornea can be caused by a trauma such as a scratch from your fingernail while applying or removing your contacts.

Bacteria or fungus can also cause infections in people who wear contact lenses.

Improper contact lens storage and maintenance can cause serious infections that can lead to visual impairment or blindness.

Symptoms include eye pain and redness, blurry vision, and light sensitivity.

Early diagnosis is key for treatment.

Have regular eye exams to catch the infection before it gets worse.

Once the condition is diagnosed, it can be treated with prescription medication.

The good news is that this rare condition can easily be prevented with proper care of your contact lenses.

Extended Use of Contact Lenses

Clinical studies found that extended use of contact lenses increases the risk of developing corneal ulcers.

Ulcerative keratitis occurs when an ulcer scars and permanently damages the cornea.

Give your eyes a break from contact lenses when you can, especially overnight.

Renew your contact lenses when your eye doctor recommends it.

Don’t try to wear them for longer than your doctor prescribes.

You may think you’re being efficient, but you’re just exposing your eyes to unnecessary risks.

It’s Been Awhile Since You’ve Seen Your Eye Doctor

Avoiding eye pain from contact lenses and healthy eyes in general starts with you.

Follow proper care procedures and use good hygiene when you clean your contacts.

Listen to your eye doctor and make a regular appointment for checkups.

If you notice any unusual symptoms that could be a sign of infection, don’t waste time.

Better safe than sorry.

Immediately contact your eye doctor for an examination.

See your eye doctor at least once a year.

Take our suggestions to help you prepare for your next eye exam at Image Optometry. If you are looking for an optometrist in dunbar, remember to book an appointment first.

Oh, and check in with our blog from time to time to get more tips to keep your eyes healthy.

Are Your Eye Drops OK to Use with Contact Lenses?

There are lots of different kinds of eye drops, most of which can be used by contact lens wearers. However, many drops should never be placed on your eye while you are wearing your lenses. How can you tell which ones?

If you want to play it totally safe, take your drops into your doctor’s office and ask if they’re alright to use during contact lens wear. If that’s not practical, read on for more information on different kinds of drops and how to use them.

Prescription versus Over-the-Counter

If your doctor prescribed eye drops, it’s important that you use them according to the instructions provided. In almost all cases, unless you are clearly instructed otherwise, you should remove your contact lenses prior to instilling drops. Then, wait about 15 minutes before putting your contact lenses back on your eyes.

If you are using over-the-counter drops, and have not gotten specific instructions from your doctor on how safe they are to use with contact lenses, here are some general guidelines:

• Know what you’re buying. Most over-the-counter eye drops fall into one of four categories: drops for redness, drops for allergies, drops for dry eyes, and drops for contact lens re-wetting.

• Steer clear of “Get the Red Out” drops. Red-eye reducers contain ingredients called “vasoconstrictors. ” They work by shrinking blood vessels in the clear tissue that coats the white part of the eye. A lot of people love the whiter eyes they get when they use these products, but they are not recommended for contact lens wearers. These products can cause deposits to form on your lens, and, over time, they can actually make your eyes redder.

• Follow the 15-minute rule with allergy drops. Most eye drops for allergies first hit the market as prescription medications. These complex pharmaceuticals can be very helpful for contact lens wearers who suffer from allergies. However, the ingredients in these drops are not designed to interact with a contact lens. For this reason, and so you get maximum penetration in your ocular tissues, instill allergy drops prior to lens insertion and wait 15 minutes before putting your lenses back in.

• Eye drops for dry eye are not the same as “rewetting drops.” The two categories are easily confused, but are very different. Dry eye drops are made to lubricate the eye, not the contact lens. Many of these drops contain oils or are fairly thick. This can temporarily or permanently cloud your contact lenses. If you have dry eyes, talk to your doctor about what drops are best for you. If a medication is needed for dry eye, you will likely be advised to follow the 15-minute rule.

• Pay attention to contact lens rewetting drop labels. Most drops that are made for use with contact lenses will have the word “contacts” right on the front of the label. These drops are designed specifically to lubricate the eye and lens surface to make your wearing experience more comfortable. You can use these drops as frequently as you wish. In fact, eye doctors often recommend them to improve comfort.

Do You Really Need All Those Drops?

If wearing contacts makes your eyes look red, or if you have dryness, itching, or discomfort, it may be time to consult with your eye doctor. Your doctor can help you select a lens that suits your unique ocular challenge. A daily disposable may make your eyes more comfortable and may also limit protein and allergen deposits that can accumulate with repeated use of a single pair of lenses. CooperVision offers two brands of daily disposable lenses; MyDay® and clariti®.

Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.

When you sleep in contact lenses, you’re reducing the amount of oxygen that gets to your eyes, Dr. Fogt says. That can lead to eye infections like keratitis. It can also bring about or exacerbate symptoms of dry eye. This condition happens when you don’t have sufficient tears to lubricate your eyes, and it can lead to redness, stinging, burning, scratchiness, sensitivity to light, and a feeling that something’s in your eyes, among other issues. According to the Mayo Clinic, contact lens wearers are more at risk of the condition in general, and sleeping in your lenses can just compound the problem.

Also, depending on the type you wear, leaving your contacts in overnight could mean you’re not cleaning them regularly, Corinne Casey, O.D., an optometrist with Katzen Eye Group, tells SELF. Allergens, various microorganisms, and protein deposits from your tear film all build up on the surfaces of your lenses during the day, Dr. Casey explains. If you have reusable contact lenses that your doctor says need to be cleaned every night, following those instructions is an important part of preventing problems.

Still, life happens. If you forget to take your contact lenses out before bed, you should remove them as soon as you wake up, Beeran Meghpara, M.D., an eye surgeon at Wills Eye Hospital, tells SELF. If they seem a little stuck in there (and they probably will), give your eyes a good rinse with sterile contact solution, close them, and rub your eyelids very gently before trying again, Dr. Meghpara says.

Once your contacts are out, it’s a good idea to wear your glasses for a few hours afterwards to let your eyes breathe, he says. And, of course, if you’re struggling to get the lenses out or you’re experiencing pain, sensitivity to light, discharge, or swelling, call your eye doctor right away so they can remove the lenses and check for infection.

5. You don’t replace your lenses as often as you should.

Every type of contact lens is different, but the AOA specifically says that you should always follow the recommended replacement schedule outlined by your doctor. (The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates contact lenses and dictates how long you can safely wear each type of lens, so these guidelines are legit.)

Contacts aren’t cheap, so it’s no wonder why you’d want to get a little more bang for your buck by waiting to change them out. But using them for too long allows even more microorganisms, allergens, and protein deposits to build up and potentially cause inflammation, irritation, or infection. While cleaning your lenses as prescribed helps, that won’t necessarily get everything off, Dr. Casey says, so regularly swapping them out is key.

By the way, you should follow the replacement instructions no matter how often you actually wear your contacts during that time period, Dr. Fogt says. If you’re supposed to use a new set of contact lenses each month, do that even if you didn’t wear your contacts every day. Same goes for daily disposables—even if you didn’t actually wear them for the entire day, once you’ve used them, you should toss them.

6. You just top off the contact lens solution in your case instead of starting fresh.

Like the other tips here, this is all about keeping your contact lenses clean, Dr. Fogt says. While soaking your contacts in a solution-filled case can remove possible irritants from your lenses, that stuff can then stick around in the solution itself, Dr. Fogt says. That’s why the FDA recommends using fresh solution every time you’re cleaning and storing your lenses.

7. You don’t clean your contact case after every use, and you certainly aren’t cracking open a new one every every three months.

To truly get an A+ when it comes to caring for your contacts, you should be rinsing your case with sterile solution and letting it dry after every single use. Even then, it’s still not a sterile environment. To further reduce your risk of winding up with eye issues, the FDA says you should replace your contact case at least every three months, or however often your eye doctor tells you.

Even with the best contact lens hygiene in the world, you might still deal with eye issues that warrant a trip to the doctor. If you experience a ton of dryness, redness, pain, discharge, blurry vision, or anything else that makes your vision worse instead of better, Dr. Casey recommends you stop wearing your contacts and call your eye doctor right away. Getting into that exam room can help them figure out if you need a new type of contact lens, have an eye infection that needs treatment, or have another eye problem that needs attention.


  • 6 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Eyes
  • 5 Ways to Deal With Dry, Itchy Eyes
  • 6 Simple Ways to Take Better Care of Your Eyes

Contact Lens How-Tos

How to Insert your Contact Lenses

Are you wondering “How do I put these two little contact lenses in my eye?” Here’s what you need to know about how to insert your contact lenses.

Step One

Wash your hands. Do not skip this step. Cleanliness is key to your eye’s health and safety. Make sure you use soap and get those fingers clean. Be careful not to dry them with anything that leaves lint on your fingers. A microfiber towel will help keep small pieces of debris from getting onto your contact lens.

Step Two

Squirt some saline solution on your clean, dominant index finger so no tap water (or aforementioned debris) gets on the lenses.

Step Three

Using your clean index finger, remove the lens from its container and place it on the pad of your finger. Examine the lens and make sure it looks like half of a ball and not a soup bowl with a rim. (If it doesn’t look like a perfect half sphere, your lens is probably inside out.)

Step Four

Use saline solution to rinse off the contact lens. It may have been stored in cleansing solution or saline solution, but a cleaned off, moist lens will be easiest to insert.

Step Five

Use your other hand to hold open your designated eye. Use your index finger and gently lift the lid, while using your middle finger to hold the bottom lid down.

Step Six

While looking up or to the side with the designated eye, gently come close to your eyeball until you feel the gentle pull of the lens sticking to the eye. If your eyes are too dry or too wet for the lens to stick to the eye, you may need to blink a few times, use wetting drops, or give yourself a few minutes, before trying to insert the lens again.

Step Seven

As soon as the lens has ‘stuck’ to the eye, gently close your lid over the lens to give the lens a moment to find it’s rightful place on your eye’s lens. You may feel the lens move a bit as you close your eye, and that’s okay. Know it’s just trying to find its normal resting place.

Step Eight

Blink a few times and make sure the lens feels comfortable. Can you see clearly through the lens? Is the eye free from pain? Then you have successfully inserted your contact lens!

If it feels uncomfortable in anyway or you aren’t able to see clearly, remove the lens and examine it for dirt, debris, or make sure that it’s not inside out. Then start all these steps over again! If you continue to experience pain, leave your lens out until you can try again or talk to your Eyeglass World optometrist.

How to Store your Contact Lenses

Contact lenses come in a little package filled with saline solution. Once that package is opened, it should be thrown away. So what do you do with your contact lenses when you remove them? Here are a few options:

Option 1: Store them in a cleaning system.

If you are taking your contact lenses out for the night, or if you know your lenses have been exposed to dirt, pollen or debris and need a good cleaning, your best storage option is a contact lens disinfecting or cleaning system.

These systems are special cases that accompany disinfectant solution and work with the solution to clean your lenses and then chemically change from a potent disinfectant to a gentle saline solution over about eight hours. These are typically ‘no-rub’ solutions so you can take out your lenses, store them in the cleaning system case, pour in the solution, and remove the lenses when you’re ready to wear again!

Option 2: A regular contact lens case.

Contact lens cases have two separate compartments, often-marked ‘left’ and ‘right’, for you to place your lenses in when you aren’t wearing them. You can use regular saline solution or a cleaning solution (NOT hydrogen peroxide-based) to store the lenses for a short period of time or overnight.

Sometimes cleaning solutions require you to agitate the lens before storage to make sure it’s clean. These cases often seal tightly so you can store them in your purse or pocket. That way no liquid will leak out and your lenses will stay moist for when you’re ready to insert them again.

Option 3: A cup or Ziploc bag.

Let’s say you are at a friend’s home and you need to take your lenses out for some reason, but have no case available. You can use Ziploc bags or a cup to put your lenses in for a few hours. TAKE NOTE: This storage solution requires you to have saline, cleaning solution, or even your re-wetting eye drops in with the lenses. Otherwise, they will dry out. (You do not ever want to store your contact lenses in tap water. This is dangerous.)

You should not plan on putting your lenses back into your eyes until after you’ve disinfected the lenses. Even if you are using a clean glass or bag, you don’t know what kind of bacteria may be lurking in these containers that will be foreign to your eyes.

Remember that you’ll still need to be able to tell your left lens from the right if you wear two different prescriptions. The solution? Mark the containers you use appropriately to make it easier to store and re-insert your lenses properly the next day.

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