As with anything regarding your eye health, appropriate care and products are important when using soft disposable contact lenses.
- Always wash, rinse and dry your hands with a lint-free towel/tissue before touching your lenses. All traces of soap, perfumes, hair sprays, creams and lotions should be removed from your hands and around your eyes.
- Keep your nails trimmed and clean – long fingernails can tear or split contact lenses.
- Avoid picking up lenses with your fingernails – they can only be held safely between the fingertips.
- Never allow lenses to dry out and never try to insert them when they are in a dehydrated state.
- Do not use the lens if the pack is open or damaged.
- Never use expired lenses or solutions.
- Comfort drops and tear lubricants are available to help re-wet lenses while they are being worn. They are applied directly to the eye while wearing lenses.
Which side up?
- If a lens is inserted inside out, it will feel uncomfortable and often give fluctuating vision. There are several methods to determine whether the lens is the correct way around.
- Profile Method: Look at the edge profile of the lens. The edges will curve up if the lens is correctly positioned, or curve out if the lens is inside out (see picture).
- Engraving or identifying marks: If there is an engraving to identify the correct orientation of your lenses, your optometrist will demonstrate it.
- Squeeze Test: Gently squeeze the lens between thumb and forefinger. If the edges meet, the lens is positioned the correct way.
- To avoid confusion, make a habit of inserting the same lens first.
- Check the lens is clean and moist. If it’s not, rinse with saline or multipurpose solution.
- Check the lens is not inside out.
- Balance the lens on the tip of your index finger.
- Pull the lower lid down with the middle finger of the same hand.
- Hold the upper lid firmly from above with the middle finger of the other hand. Make sure the finger is placed just where the eyelid meets the eyelashes. The eye is now wide open and the cornea exposed.
- While looking directly ahead, place the lens directly on the eye.
- Release the lower and then the upper lid. Look down and gently close the eyes. Rub the top lid lightly to rub out any trapped air bubbles.
- If the lens is not properly centered on the cornea, gently manipulate by using fingertips and eyelids.
- If necessary, re-wet the contact lens with one drop of solution to help the lens slide off the eye, especially if it is a little dry.
- Place index finger on the lens.
- Look up.
- Slide lens to white part of the eye using index finger.
- Gently squeeze the lens between thumb and index finger to remove the lens.
- An alternative method is to remove the lens directly from the cornea using the thumb and index finger.
- If the lens is not comfortable it may have dust trapped beneath it. Place a finger on the lens, slide it onto the white of the eye and back into place a few times. This will often roll any particle out from under it.
- If discomfort persists, remove the lens, rinse in saline or multipurpose solution, check the lens is clean, undamaged and not inside out, and re-insert.
- If the lens continues to be uncomfortable, remove it and do not attempt to wear it again until you have consulted your practitioner.
Cleaning and disinfecting
Cleaning and disinfecting are two separate procedures which must be followed one after the other once your lenses have been removed. The importance of effective cleaning cannot be over-emphasised. Clean each lens immediately after taking it out of the eye, as this removes protein deposition which builds up on the lens during wear.
Make sure fingernails are trimmed and avoid direct fingernail contact with the lens. Always place lenses in correct baskets/case to avoid mixing up right and left lenses. Do not use tap water on your lenses as this can cause an eye infection to develop.
- Place the lens in the palm of the hand.
- Apply 1 or 2 drops of your specified cleaning solution on the lens.
- Rub gently with a circular motion for about 15 seconds on each side of the lens. Make sure both sides of the lens are cleaned.
- Rinse thoroughly with saline or multipurpose solution. You may need to rinse and rub with saline or multipurpose solution more than once to ensure the entire cleaner is removed. Insufficient rinsing will mean that the contact lens may sting on insertion the next time.
- Place lenses in your contat lens case ready for disinfection.
Lenses must be disinfected following cleaning. This prevents lens contamination and helps to avoid eye infections. There are several methods of disinfecting. With the following two, the solution should be replaced every day and the case should be rinsed with hot water and left drying face-down on a clean paper-towel. Replace your case every 3 months.
Peroxide system (eg AO Sept, Sauflon Multi)
After cleaning, lenses are placed in a container with hydrogen peroxide solution. This MUST BE NEUTRALISED over a specified period by using tablets, platinum discs or other solutions. Your optometrist will fully explain the method recommended for you. Never put un-neutralised peroxide in the eye as it will sting horribly! Find AoSept at our shop here.
Multipurpose solution (eg Revitalens)
These soaking solutions contain a weak disinfecting chemical. The lenses can be taken directly from this solution and inserted into the eye. If stinging occurs advise your optometrist.After cleaning, place lenses in the container/case with the recommended solution and leave overnight. The case should be at least half full with solution and the lenses submerged.
Cleaning and disinfecting: the dos and don’ts
- Do NOT modify the recommended cleaning/disinfecting regimes without first consulting your optometrist.
- Short cuts may save money, but will result in ineffective cleaning and/or disinfection, which could lead to damage to the lenses or infection of the eyes.
- Carry a list of the recommended cleaning solutions. Accept no alternatives without first talking to your optometrist. Some solutions may not be compatible and may lead to allergic reactions or discomfort.
- To help avoid contamination, do not touch the tips or nozzles of solution bottles and replace caps promptly after use.
- Do not use hard lens solutions with soft lenses.
Follow up appointments
- Regular after-care appointments must be maintained for the health of your eyes.
- Insert your lenses at least three hours prior to your appointment and bring spectacles with you.
- Most complications are avoidable and treatable provided we see them in time.
- Your optometrist is trained to observe and detect signs of problems before you become aware of them. By the time you notice a problem it may be more advanced and more difficult to resolve.
- The importance of regular contact lens aftercare is the prevention of long-term problems. We advise that you see your optometrist yearly so they can assess the health of the eyes and any changes to the prescription or fit.
Things to remember
- Discontinue lens wear and consult your optometrist if you experience persistent discomfort, redness or blurred vision.
- Remove your lenses before using swimming pools or saunas, as lenses may become contaminated if worn during these activities.
- Unless advised by your optometrist, lenses should not be worn while sleeping as this increases your chance of infection by approximately 3x.
- Extended-wear lenses for overnight wear require special instructions from your optometrist.
- It is not advisable to wear lenses during periods of illness such as colds, influenza etc.
- Remove lenses before using medicated eye drops, undergoing surgery or anaesthesia.
- While wearing lenses, do not use any eye drops other than those which your optometrist may recommend. Consult your optometrist if in doubt.
- Lenses must be stored wet. If they dry out, soak lenses in cleaning solution for one hour until they return to a soft state. Then clean and disinfect as normal before using again.
- Always use fresh solution. Do not use expired solutions/re-wetting eye drops/tear lubricants. Change your solution after each wear.
- Change the solution if it has been longer than a week without wearing the lenses.
- Discard the lenses as recommended by your optometrist. Replace your lens case at least every three months, as old cases have been shown to increase the risk of infection due to the formation of bio-films.
- If your eyes are sore, red, or have any discharge, remove your lenses and contact your eye care practitioner or the acute eye-clinic at your local hospital after hours.