HOUGHTON - Without proper use and care of contact lenses, contact wearers put their eye health at risk, per the Michigan Optometric Association.
"With advancements in contact lens technology, there has never been a safer time to wear contact lenses," said Dr. Amy Dinardo, a Big Rapids-based optometrist and contact lens specialist. "When patients do not use lenses as directed, however, the consequences can be serious."
According to a recent survey, the 2010 American Eye-Q, by the American Optometric Association, a majority of respondents wear the disposable lenses longer than recommended, which can lead to an increase in deposits and can cause bacteria which may harm the eye.
Experts say proper care of contact lenses can contribute to good eye health. At left, contacts ready for cleaning are seen in this file photo. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette file photo)
Holly S. O'Clair, O.D. at the College Avenue Vision Clinic P.C. in Houghton, said proper use and care of contacts helps keep the eyes healthy.
"Nowadays, there is such a wide realm with what you can do with contacts," she said.
These days, contacts range from daily disposables and 30-day continuous wear contacts to flexwear and hard contacts, she said.
In the survey, a quarter of respondents reported wearing contact lenses while sleeping, which is hazardous unless the contact lenses were made to be slept in a few nights.
"A lot of lenses are flexwear, (which allows) you sleep in them a couple nights a month and continue daily disinfection," O' Clair said. "We're seeing that as a real fitting option for some folks."
Another popular option for some people are daily wear contacts, which may be used by those who play sports, have allergies or dry eyes.
"It's an affordable option," she said.
Cleaning of contact lenses varies depending on type but many multi-purpose cleaning systems have gained popularity.
"Many contact lens solution manufacturers have gone to make it really simple for the users," she said.
The bottle contains cleaner, disinfectants and preservatives, she said, and some claim to be rub-free, however to save money, it's effective to rub the lenses.
"The most exciting thing, I think, in the one-step systems nowadays is hydrogen peroxide," O'Clair said.
While the lenses are soaking in the solution for six hours, the lenses are cleaned, but proper use should be followed.
Many one-step systems have been created for hard contacts as well, O'Clair said, however she said two-step programs are just as effective.
"The life of a hard lens is long, as long as a patient takes care of it and gets them inspected annually," she said. "A lot of gas-permeated contact lenses will last two to five years. It's not uncommon."
O'Clair said one of the most important aspects of contact lens care is following the advised replacement schedule.
"If it's a two-week lens, it should be replaced every two weeks," she said. "If it's a four-week lens, it should be replaced every four weeks."
The MOA and AOA offer the following recommendations for contact lens wearers:
Always wash and dry your hands before handling contact lenses.
Carefully and regularly clean contact lenses, as directed by your eye doctor. Rub the contact lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly before soaking lenses overnight in sufficient multi-purpose solution to completely cover the lens.
Store lenses in the proper lens storage case and replace your case every three months or sooner. Clean the case after each use, and keep it open and dry between cleanings.
Use only products recommended by your eye doctor to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.
Only fresh solution should be used to clean and store contact lenses. Never re-use old solution. Contact lens solution must be changed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, even if the lenses are not used daily.
Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your eye doctor.
Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.
See your eye doctor for your regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.