5 Things Your Contact Lenses Wish They Could Tell You (2023)

5 Things Your Contact Lenses Wish They Could Tell You (1)

Health & Wellness

If your lenses could talk, they'd likely have a lot to say about how you're treating them. (Hint: If you're like most people, there's probably some room for improvement.) For Contact Lens Health Week, we’re spotlighting top tips for giving your contacts a little TLC.

By Laurie Tarkan

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or anyone who's been annoyed by having to push glasses up the bridge of their nose or contend with wonky, uneven frames, getting contact lenses can be a completely liberating experience.

Since they move with your eye, contact lenses give you a full field of vision wherever you look, plus they're easy to use and comfortable to wear.

But in order to enjoy those freedoms, you do need to practice proper care when it comes to cleaning and wearing contact lenses.

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According to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly all respondents confessed to at least one contact lens behavior that's linked to eye infections.

The reality is that it doesn't take much to reduce your risk of infection and safely wear contact lenses—if you follow these five best practices. Your contact lenses should know.


Don't Overwear Us

Do you often try to get one more day out of your daily disposables, or an extra week out of your monthly contacts?

Using contact lenses past their recommended usage period is a very common—and potentially very serious—mistake. “We see many complications related to overwear in my practice,” says Ann Madden, O.D., an optometrist at the Grossnickle Eye Center in Indiana.

Overuse can cause the lens to degrade and protein to build up in the eye. This can cause allergic reactions and reduce the oxygen permeability of the lens (the cornea needs oxygen to stay healthy), potentially leading to infections and other damage.

Squeezing an extra day or two out of daily disposable lenses can be problematic because daily disposables are packed in a sterile solution designed to mirror your own natural tears.

"That tear film gives you more comfort and your best vision,” explains Millicent Knight, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.A.A.R.M. 5 Things Your Contact Lenses Wish They Could Tell You (9) Millicent Knight, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.A.A.R.M.Vice President of Professional Affairs, North America, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., Vice President of Professional Affairs, North America, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. “But when you stretch a daily disposable lens, you have to clean that lens, and you lose those benefits." Plus, disposables can also become significantly drier after a day or two of use.

Bottom line: Be diligent about following your contact lens' recommended wear schedule and usage instructions.


We Don't Mix Well With Water

Water can cause soft contact lenses to change shape, swell and stick to the cornea. “This can irritate the eyes, making them susceptible to infection,” Dr. Madden says.

expand 5 Things Your Contact Lenses Wish They Could Tell You (10)

This is why you should never rinse or store your reusable contacts in water, and always use an appropriate contact lens solution.

The same goes for exposing your soft contact lenses to water while showering and swimming—even a short time in water can expose your contact lenses to bacteria that may be harmful.

There's also an amoeba that lives in both fresh and tap water, called Acanthamoeba, that can fester underneath the contact lens and lead to a serious infection.

The good news it that this type of infection is rare—only about one to 21 infections occur per million contact lens wearers—but it can be extremely painful and even cause blindness in the most extreme cases.

“Even though it’s rare, it’s so devastating that it’s not worth taking the risk,” Dr. Madden says.

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Please, Please Clean Us

If you clean your contacts correctly, you'll reduce your risk of irritation, bacterial infection and inflammation that can lead to inflammatory corneal ulcers, or open sores on your cornea.

The key to keeping reusable contact lenses germ-free is to rub them between your fingers (wash your hands with soap and water first!) when you clean them with a disinfecting solution recommended by your eye doctor. With this move, you’re literally rubbing away microbes and other deposits. Then give them a good rinse with the solution.

5 Things Your Contact Lenses Wish They Could Tell You (12)

And speaking of cleanliness, remember this mantra: contacts first, makeup second.

5 Things Your Contact Lenses Wish They Could Tell You (13)

Of course, you can sidestep the cleaning process entirely if you opt for daily disposables, which you never have to clean since you dispose of them after every wear and start with a fresh pair each day.

And speaking of cleanliness, remember this mantra: contacts first, makeup second. Insert your contact lenses before putting on makeup, and remove them before washing off your makeup. This reduces the chance that bacteria and particles from mascara, eye shadow and other cosmetics will get onto your lenses.


Keep Our Case Clean, Too

Your case needs to be as clean as your contacts. If it's not, biofilms, or layers of bacteria, can build up, potentially infecting your reusable lenses.

In fact, research suggests that proper case cleaning could cut the number of serious infections in half.

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Here's the best method: Pour out any solution you have in your case—you want to get rid of used solution, rather than top it off the next time you use it. Then rub the inside of the case with clean fingers, rinse with solution, dry with a tissue and store upside down, without the cap on.

Lastly, replace your case every three months. An easy way to remember: Buy a bunch at once, and change cases on the first day of every new season.


Ready for Bed? Don't Forget to Remove Us!

Sleeping with your contact lenses can be risky because it ups your chance of getting a corneal infection called microbial keratitis, which is a bacterial infection that can cause pain, redness and blurred vision.

This can happen due to a combination of a potential buildup of pollutants on the contact lens, a lack of eye and lid movement while you sleep, and less oxygen getting to your eye, which your cornea needs to stay healthy.

Keep these tips in mind and visit your eye doctor regularly—usually once per year, if you wear contact lenses—and you can count on healthy contacts and healthy eyes.

5 Things Your Contact Lenses Wish They Could Tell You (15)

Check out this new wearer guide, packed with great tips for safely and comfortably using contact lenses.

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What three things are additional on a contact lens prescription? ›

The three main measurements on your contact lens prescription are power, base curve, and diameter.

What can I expect at my contact lens exam? ›

You can think of a contact lens exam as an add-on to a comprehensive eye exam. A contact lens exam can have several components, including a consultation with the optometrist, measurements of a few key parts of your eyes, a tear film evaluation, and a contact lens fitting.

What are the do's and don'ts of contact lenses? ›

Always wash and rinse your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses or touching your eye. Use a mild non-cosmetic (oil and fragrance free) soap, and dry your hands with a lint-free cloth or tissues. Clean your lenses after removal as indicated by your eyecare practitioner. Use only the recommended solutions.

What are three uses of contact lenses? ›

Contact lenses correct most vision problems 1, including: Near-sightedness (myopia): blurred vision far away. Far-sightedness (hyperopia): blurred vision close up. Astigmatism: blurred vision both far away and close up.

What does the D stand for on my contact box? ›

Power (pwr) / Sphere (sph) / Dioptre (D): This value is the power of the lens needed to correct your long or short-sightedness and is measured in Dioptres (D). A minus (-) sign indicates that you are short-sighted, whereas a plus (+) sign shows that you are long-sighted.

What does 123 mean on contact lenses? ›

If the "123" appears normally, the lens is correctly oriented and ready to be placed on your eye. If the "123" is backward, the contact is inside out.

Can an eye doctor tell if you wear contacts? ›

Arriving at a contact lens follow-up exam with your lenses in will also let your eye doctor see whether or not you've been wearing them properly. If you haven't been, your eye doctor will be able to tell you what you can do to make the best possible use of your lenses.

How much is a years worth of contacts? ›

What You Can Expect to Pay. Disposable contact lenses cost approximately $200 to $1,000 per year or $15 to $85 per month for regular wearers, if you're buying for both eyes.

How long does it take the brain to get used to contacts? ›

As with any new eye prescription, it may take a few days for your eyes and brain to adjust to the changes. New prescriptions may cause mild headaches or slight dizziness. If this persists after the first week, it may be a sign that your prescription needs to be adjusted.

Is it OK to take a nap with contacts in? ›

Eye doctors advise against napping with your contacts in. Yes, even if the nap is shorter than an hour, it can still increase the chances of irritation and infection in your eyes. You'll also probably wake up with “sticky” or dry eyes, and no one wants that!

Is it OK to shower with contacts in? ›

Eye Care Tips for Contact Lens Wearers

Avoid water while wearing contacts. Keep your contacts away from water. Make sure to remove your contacts before showering, bathing, or swimming. Don't rinse or store your contacts in water, and if it does occur, make sure to throw away or disinfect them thoroughly.

Can I cry with contacts in? ›

Crying with contact lenses is completely safe, whether you are crying tears of laughter, sadness or watching a weepy movie, those tears will not damage your contact lenses, although they may dislodge them.

What are 10 uses of lenses? ›

Uses of the lens
  • The lens is employed in microscopes and magnifying glasses to converge all the incoming light rays to a specific point.
  • The lens is used as a lens system in cameras as they focus light rays for a clear image.
  • Lens has medical purposes as well, like the correction of hyperopia.
  • It is used in a projector.
6 days ago

What is the most important use of lenses? ›

Lenses are used to focus light. Because focusing light is so important, you can find lenses in many places. Perhaps the most common lens that we see are the ones in peoples glasses. There is a small lens in each of our eyes.

What are the main reasons people wear contact lenses? ›

A contact lens is a synthetic lens that sits on the surface of the eye and helps correct vision problems such as long-sightedness, short-sightedness, presbyopia (the lens is unable to focus) and astigmatism (blurred vision).

What is the highest contact prescription? ›

The highest level of corrective power for monthly soft contact lenses is about -12 Dioptres (bear in mind that the average prescription for short sighted people is -2.00 Dioptres), and is available from both Purevision 2HD and Biofinity.

What does BC mean on contacts? ›

BC - Base Curve (usually a number between 8 and 10) DIA - Diameter (usually a number between 13 and 15) Brand - The brand/type of contact lens that your doctor has fitted you for.

Why is my contact prescription stronger than glasses? ›

Part of the reason for the differences is that contacts are placed directly on the lens of your eye, while glasses sit about 12 millimeters away. That seemingly minor difference requires a different prescription strength for each type of corrective eyewear.

What number is no astigmatism? ›

Astigmatism is measured in diopters. A perfect eye with no astigmatism has 0 diopters. Most people have between 0.5 to 0.75 diopters of astigmatism. People with a measurement of 1.5 or more typically need contacts or eyeglasses to have clear vision.

What does +1.00 mean on an eye test? ›

A “plus” (+) sign in front of the number means you are farsighted, and a “minus” (-) sign means you are nearsighted. These numbers represent diopters, the unit used to measure the correction, or focusing power, of the lens your eye requires.

What is a strong astigmatism number? ›

Mild Astigmatism <1.00 diopters. Moderate Astigmatism 1.00 to 2.00 diopters. High Astigmatism 2.00 to 4.00 diopters. Extreme Astigmatism > 4.00 diopters.

What are the 3 numbers on prescription glasses? ›

You'll find up to three numbers on glasses frames, and they stand for the lens width, bridge width, and temple length. These numbers are written on the inside of one arm and may be separated by spaces or dashes.

What are the 3 parts of a lens? ›

The lens has three main parts: the lens capsule, the lens epithelium, and the lens fibers.

How many major components are in a contact lens prescription? ›

The Three Main Components of Your Contact Lens Prescription

To function at their best, contact lenses must have the right fit, size, and strength. Base Curve (Fit) – Denoted by BC on the box of contacts, it refers to how well your lenses fit your eyes.

What is 3 point touch contact lens? ›

The three-point touch fitting method allows the contact lens to bear lightly on the apex of the cornea, with heavier bearing on the paracentral cornea. This technique is associated with good visual acuity. SynergEyes Ultrahealth is a hybrid lens specifically designed for keratoconic patients.

What does +2.00 mean for prescription glasses? ›

If your prescription reads -1.00, that means your eyeglasses need 1 diopter of strength to correct nearsightedness. If your prescription reads +2.50, your eyeglasses need 2.5 diopters of strength to correct farsightedness. The higher the number, the more correction your vision needs.

What does +4 eye prescription mean? ›

In general, the further away from zero the number on your prescription, the worse your eyesight and the more vision correction (stronger prescription) you need. A “plus” (+) sign in front of the number means you are farsighted, and a “minus” (-) sign means you are nearsighted.

What does 145 mean on glasses? ›

The numbers beneath the frames reflect the SIZE MEASUREMENTS in millimeters (mm). THE FIRST NUMBER (ex.54) = the width of the lenses. THE SECOND NUMBER (ex.15) = the distance between the lenses. THE THIRD NUMBER (ex.140) = the length of the temple arm including the portion going behind the ear.


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