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Don't wash your contact lenses with water

Why water isn’t the solution to loving your lenses

Love your lensesWhy water and contact lenses don’t mix

Water is one of the biggest concerns of eye health professionals when it comes to contact lens wear. Research by the GOC found that many people are unaware that they should not get their contact lenses wet, and have been trying to raise awareness of the dangers of water.

You may think water is safe for contact lenses, as it is safe to drink. However, bacteria in all water can get transfer onto your lenses and multiply. This bacteria then sits directly on the front surface of your eyes when you put your lenses in.

Contact lenses solutionContact lens solution contains eye friendly chemicals that clean your lenses, preventing bacteria multiplying. It’s important to only use contact lens solution when cleaning your lenses: contact lenses and water don’t mix!

  • Water doesn’t have the disinfecting qualities that contact lens solution has. If you store your lenses in water, they aren’t being kept sterile.
  • Water carries bacteria that can be harmful if it comes into contact with your eyes. Acanthamoeba keratitis is just one eye infection linked to water.
  • Water can distort or damage your lenses. This makes them uncomfortable and stops them from working as they should.

I don’t use water with my lenses, do I?

Contact lensAvoiding water when cleaning your lenses is not the end of it. Many people go about their daily life without realising that they are putting themselves at risk from water.

Research carried out on behalf of the General Optical Council (GOC) identified some of the most common ways water comes into contact with lenses:

  • Swimming. The GOC found that 37% of contact lens wearers either do not wear goggles when swimming, or were not aware of the advice.
  • Showering. The GOC also found that 44% of wearers were not aware that they shouldn’t shower while wearing contact lenses.
  • Storing lenses. 16% of people do not follow the advice to not use water for cleaning or storing lenses, or were unaware of the advice.

No water, no problem!

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

  • Swimming with gogglesGet protected in the pool: If you have to wear lenses when swimming, water- tight goggles will help prevent eye infections. Prescription goggles are also a great solution for helping you see clearer underwater without wearing your lenses.
  • Remove lenses before showering: Almost half of people who wear contact lenses don’t realise they shouldn’t shower in them. Whether it’s from a tap, shower or bottle contact lenses and water don’t mix!
  • Store contact lensesDon’t store your lenses in water! Only use contact lens solution: You will only transfer bacteria onto your lenses when storing them in water
  • Don’t lick your lenses (yes, you read it right!): There is twice as much bacteria in your mouth than there are people on Earth, so don't put your lenses in your mouth! Your lenses won’t be clean and you may end up eating an unwanted snack!
  • Don’t dilute your solution: Topping-up old solution with either water or more solution won’t effectively disinfect your lenses. Empty your contact lens case, rinse and dry it before filling it with new solution.
  • Washing hands illustrationsWash and DRY: We all know we should was our hands, but drying them is just as important. To ensure your lenses are kept water-free, make sure you dry your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses.

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

And remember; Don’t lose sight of your Optician! If in doubt your Optician is always there to give you any advice you need.