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Washing contact lens under tap

Keeping your lenses water-free

Research carried out by the General Optical Council (GOC) found that many people weren’t aware that they couldn’t clean their contact lenses with water, or get them wet with it. This has caused water to become one of the biggest concerns of eye health professionals when it comes to contact lens wear.

Solution and contact lens

We use water day in, day out. We drink, clean and wash with it. Due to its many uses, people think that it’s safe to use with your contact lenses. Bacteria found in water can make itself at home on the surface of your lenses and then transfer onto your eye when your lenses are in. It’s a big win for bacteria, not so much for your eye health!

But I don’t use water with my lenses…

Swimming

You might think so, but you may be going about your daily life without realising you’re putting yourself at risk. We’ve listed a few common scenarios below:

  • Swimming: The GOC found that 37% of contact lens wearers don’t wear goggles when swimming, or simply weren’t aware of the importance. Despite pools being treated with chlorine, a harmful microbe that thrives in water known as Acanthamoeba is resistant to disinfection.
  • Storing lenses: It can be easy to assume that quickly rinsing your lenses with water is safe, but in fact it isn’t sterile and contains no disinfectant qualities. It was found that 16% of people ignore advice to not use water for cleaning or storage purposes.
  • Showering: Within the same study, it was found that 44% of wearers were not aware that they shouldn’t shower while wearing their contacts. Acanthamoeba and other waterborne bacteria can stick to the surface of your lenses, causing irritation and discomfort.

Golden rules for healthy eyes

Solution and contact lens case

Following some simple water-free rules will help keep your eyes healthy and free from infection:

  • Contact lenses belong in your eye, not your mouth: Your mouth contains bacteria that simply only belongs in your mouth. Using your saliva to clean your lenses is not recommended, and you may find yourself consuming an unwanted snack!
  • Don’t store your lenses in water: Using water to store your lenses allows for bacteria to cling onto the surface of the contact lens and eventually transfer into your eye. This can cause sore, itchy eyes and lead to infections so be sure not to make this mistake.
  • Remove lenses before showering: As we have learnt, water with contacts don’t go well together and so wearing them in the shower is a bad idea. Not only does it contain harmful bacteria, it can also affect the quality of your lenses and cause them to change shape.
  • Get protected in the pool: If you have to wear lenses when swimming, water- tight goggles will help prevent eye infections. Prescription goggles are also available. They work like glasses and so they’re a great solution for helping you see clearly without the need to wear your lenses.
  • Don’t dilute your solution: You should never top up old solution with water or fresh solution, as this won’t disinfect your lenses properly. Empty your contact lens case, rinse and air dry it before filling with new solution.
  • Wash your hands, and dry them too: We all know we should wash our hands, but drying them is just as important. To ensure your lenses are kept free from water, make sure you dry your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses.

Washing hands

Following the appropriate contact lens routine when wearing your lenses will make sure you keep them clean and comfortable, whilst ensuring your eyes remain healthy.