Imagine you wore a special pair of socks. These socks are comfy and great to walk around in all day long. Now imagine you don’t take these socks off, even when you go to bed. Most of us don’t sleep in socks, let alone ones that have already been worn for an entire day. Now imagine you never take off these socks, starting to get grossed out? But wait, I’m not finished yet. Now imagine your feet were sensitive and there was a potential to get a severe foot infection, particularly if you continue to wear the same socks, yet you continue to wear these socks 24-7. This sock person sounds kinda crazy now right? What if I told you contact lenses are a little like socks on your eyes.
Contact lenses are an amazing alternative to spectacle wear for the majority of individuals who require corrected vision. They provide clear and comfortable vision for not only your daily needs but can be used for sports, your job or even just to change up your style. Like socks, contact lenses are a type of accessory, just a very tiny and specialized one. But unlike socks, the dangers of being unhygienic can be much more severe!
Optometrists are specialized at fitting contact lenses. Contacts come in all shapes, sizes and materials (kind of like socks). When we fit a lens to your eye we are not only looking for good comfort and vision, but also the correct fit for good eye health. However, optometrists aren’t the only ones responsible for keeping your eyes healthy.
Going back to the sock analogy, you have to clean them properly, get rid of them when they are worn out and take them off after a given amount of time. But unlike socks, contacts are much more strict in these factors. A reusable lens needs to be properly cleaned every night using a specified contact lens cleaner, a gentle rub between the fingers and stored in a clean case with fresh cleaning solution. The lenses then need to be thrown out after 2- weeks or a month depending on the lens type. A lot of people don’t know that the timer starts after the contact lens package is opened, and not the number of times they use the lens!
A single use lens or daily lens skips some of these steps and can be simply thrown out at the end of the day. That makes them not only more convenient than reusable lenses, but they also have the potential to keep your eyes more comfortable and healthy! Ask your optometrist about the benefits of daily contacts at your next check-up.
Did you know your eye actually breathes? Oxygen is actually passively absorbed through the cornea, the clear front surface on which a contact lens sits. When we put a contact lens on the eye it blocks some of the incoming oxygen but thankfully not all of it. Contacts are made of a special oxygen absorbing material, the newest of which is called silicone hydrogel (ask your optometrist about the importance of this material!) which distributes enough oxygen to the cornea throughout the day.
Sleeping in your contacts, regardless of how long (yes, that includes that 20 minute nap), severely cuts off the amount of oxygen getting to the cornea. This can not only change the shape of your cornea as it begins to swell-up but it can also allow dangerous bacteria to build up in your eye. Worse case scenario these bacteria can actually permanently damage your eye and severely reduce your vision.
So be a healthy, safe and diligent contact lens wearer and treat your eyes better than your feet!
Dr. Tristan Faria