As the COVID-19 situation continues to make the whole world come to an almost standstill, patients with eye problems continue to search for optometrists for vision guidance and proper eye health. When it is with matters related to
contact lenses, doctors of optometry and many health associations in different countries of the world reiterate that they are a safe and effective form of vision that plays an integral role in correcting vision for millions of people. In the United States, the American Optometric Association offers the following advice for proper wear and care for contact lenses.
Contact lenses will not give you COVID-19
People who wear contact lenses should at all times practice optimum hygiene when handling them. It is a fact that contact lenses wearers touch their eyes and faces when removing and inserting the lenses. When properly cleaned, contact lenses do not offer a threat to spread COVID-19.
How to maintain clean contact lenses
Before inserting and removing them, it is vital to have the hands properly cleaned with clean running water and soap for not less than 20 seconds. It is also imperative to dry the hands with a proper towel before insertion and removal of the lenses. In the event where water and soap are not available, a hand sanitizer that has a 60% alcohol content is recommended. As with the WHO guidelines, people should avoid touching their noses, mouth, eyes and face with unwashed hands.
How to properly disinfect contact lenses
People who use contact lenses are advised to either dispose them after daily usage or have a regular disinfection plan of their bi-monthly or monthly lenses as recommended by the lenses’ manufacturer or the patient’s doctor of optometry.
When cleaning the contact lenses, it is advisable not to use rubbing alcohol as it is rough on the surface. It is also not advisable to use bleach, high concentrations of acid or ammonia because they end up damaging the lenses and they end up getting a poor vision. Such liquids also have crazy levels of acids that can end up causing more damage when in close contact with the eyes.
Pre-moistened lens wipes are the most excellent choice when it comes to cleaning the lenses. They are medically proven to remove bacteria, germs and dirt without leaving any residue or streaks on the surface. The best thing with the durable material is the fact that it is tough enough to remove all stains while at the same time being gentle enough not to damage the lenses’ surface by scratching.
Since viruses tend to stay on surfaces for a long time, areas the lenses regularly come into contact with must be well disinfected.
Discontinue wearing if sick
Just like with other medical recommendations during these COVID-19 times, those who develop flu-like symptoms or other illnesses related to COVID-19 should stop wearing them. Unless medically advised to continue wearing them, the patient should seek medical attention first to ascertain the cause of the illness.
How to take care of contact lenses properly
When one uses contact lenses that are too old, they do not fit well and end up scratching the eyes. They can also easily cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea, which is a dangerous condition that threatens vision.
Eye drops are also known to cause problems when they are used on contact lenses. When wearing contact lenses, it is essential to avoid using eye drops. However, as prescribed by the eye doctor, one can still use wetting drops or preservative-free lubricating drops.
If by wearing contact lenses, the eyes become red, painful, watery and sensitive to light, it is essential to call the doctor right away for advice. The same should be done if the eyes are blurry or start discharging pus. These can be symptoms of severe eye problems and should not be ignored.
Taking proper care of the contacts
Eye contacts should be well cleaned once they are removed from the eyes. There are different types of cleansing symptoms, and the choice depends on the user, the type of lens being used, and whether one has some allergies. Special care should be taken when cleaning and storing the lenses so as to avoid eye infections.
- It is essential to follow the procedure that the doctor gives at all times when wearing and replacing the lenses. Daily lenses should not be worn when going to sleep.
- Clean contact lenses should be removed when taking a shower, when using a bathtub, when going for swimming or when doing anything where water might get into the eyes.
- Before coming into contact with the contact lenses, it is essential that the hands are kept clean with soap and running water and then dried with a towel that is lint-free.
- Eye contacts should never be put into the mouth so that they become wet. Saliva is not a sterile solution and can not be trusted to kill germs.
- Contacts should not be rinsed or stored in water. It is also advisable not to use a homemade sterile solution on them.
- It is not advisable to use a saline solution to wet drops or even disinfect the lenses. They are not approved to act as medical disinfectants.
- At all times, it is crucial to follow directions from the doctor and the lenses cleaning solution manufacturer.
- Regardless of the lens cleaning solution type, it is always advisable to use a “rub and rinse” cleaning method. The first thing to do is to rub the contact lenses with clean fingers and then, rinse the lenses with the solution before soaking them. This method should be used even if the solution one is using is the “no-rub” type.
- It is essential to use a new solution every time the lenses are cleaned and disinfected. It is not advisable to reuse an old solution. Lenses should not be put into a cleaning solution in an empty bottle since the solution will no longer be sterile.
- The tip of the solution should not make any contact with a new surface. When not in use, it should be tightly closed.
- Contact lenses should be rinsed with a sterile contact solution and not water. The empty cases should then be left in the open air to dry.
- The contact lenses cases should be kept clean at all times and should be replaced at least three months, or immediately they are broken or cracked.
- In the event the lenses have been stored inside the case for a reasonably long period, it is essential for one to check their instructions or instructions from the cleaning solution to see if they should be re-disinfected before being worn again. Contact lenses should never be worn if they have been stored for more than 30 days without being re-disinfected.
- Over time, contact lenses can wrap which can make the cornea change shape. To avoid this scenario, one should see the doctor regularly.
- You can find more examples on a guide to understanding your contact lenses
Does everyone wear contact lenses?
Contact lenses are worn by millions of people in different countries of the world. However, some people are not allowed to use them if they have the following conditions:
- They get a lot of eye infections
- They have dry eye allergies that are hard to treat
- They work or live in very dusty conditions
- They are not able to properly take care of their lenses
For one to be allowed to use contact lenses, the tear film and the cornea must be healthy for the owner to be comfortable to see clearly with them. Contact lenses users must be fully committed to caring for them properly and doing replacements when need arises. It is also imperative to keep talking with an ophthalmologist or optician to make sure that the user is well guided on how to use them so that they can meet all expectations and needs.
All said and done, even during this COVID-19 pandemic period, contact lenses are still as useful as they were before. With proper hygiene and care, it is easy for those who use them to continue doing so. However, it is crucial to note that one needs to be extra vigilant with the hygiene process to avoid a scenario where they pass the deadly virus.
If one strictly follows the WHO’s guidelines for hygiene isolation and social distancing, then taking care of the lenses will not be a hard task after all. But if one step along the way flops and one gets exposed, then using them can translate to a disaster.
When using clean contact lenses, hygiene comes first. It also matters a great deal how one stores them because the safer they are, the better they are when it comes to serving the owner and protecting the spread of eye diseases as well as COVID-19. Until the World Health Organization sand other relevant global health bodies stop the use of contact lenses during this pandemic period, people should continue using them but take more precautions when it comes to the hygiene, isolation and social distancing aspects.