For this week’s post, we have Dr. Jenifer Bossert, Optometrist and Director of Contact Lens Services at Honolulu Eye Clinic. She recently appeared on KITV news to discuss serious dangers of improper contact lens storage which could be putting your eyes at risk.
In addition to disposing of your contact lenses in a timely manner, here are a few other things you could consider:
When was the last time you really looked at your contact lens case?
When was the last time you actually replaced your contact lens case?
Did you even know you were supposed to replace it?
Several studies have confirmed that 70% to 82% of cases show contamination from overuse. And only 26% of patients replace their cases periodically, 48% once per year, and the remainder, never! Median frequency for cleaning cases was 2-3 times per week and one third cleaned only once per month!
Lens cases are hotbeds for bacteria and fungal colony growth…despite the addition of the Multi-Purpose Solution (MPS) contact lens solutions. Cases are made from porous plastics. Over time a “biofilm” coats the inner surface of the case. This serves as a breeding ground for bacteria. These bacteria become embedded in the pores of the case itself. Even IF you properly follow contact lens cleaning and rinsing instructions, these nasty bacteria still find a way to grow.
When present, they can attach themselves to the micropores in the contact lens, multiply, and form this undetectable film on the contact lens, which is then transferred to the eye upon insertion. These deposits irritate the cornea–the soft clear tissue on the front of the eye—causing the wearer to rub the eye and the eye to appear red. The back and forth pressure from rubbing makes microscopic scratches on the surface of the eye. These small breaks in the tissue act as open pathways for the bacteria to invade the eye, thereby, increasing your risk for a bacterial infection and/or corneal ulcer.
Your best line of defense is following these instructions EVERY day:
- NEVER “top off” and reuse the solution in your case for a second day.
- After removing contact lenses, empty the case, and rinse it with fresh MPS (not water).
- Turn it over (to keep the dust out) and let it air dry.
- REPLACE the case every 3 months.
Following these simple rules will reduce your risk of case and contact lens contamination. Please remember that not all contact lens solutions are MPS (i.e. disinfecting) solutions so it is important to read the labels. Saline is NOT a disinfecting solution. If you have any questions regarding the proper solutions to use with your particular contact lenses, don’t hesitate to call and ask your doctor or the staff here at the Honolulu Eye Clinic! We would love to hear from you!