So many people rely on contact lenses, but how many really avoid these common mistakes when wearing them?
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Recently, a TikToker, @fatinrsyfqh landed herself in the hospital for a torn cornea. According to her, it started off with a corneal abrasion and developed into a corneal ulcer. The video went viral with around 216K views and 19.2K likes.
This is due to the fact of her accidentally taking off her lenses using her sharp and long nails. She took it on her social media to share her experience and educate others to not take this for granted. She expressed that she was rushing at the moment and her nails scratched her eyes while trying to remove her lens.
Believe it or not, this unintended act can actually lead to blindness in the long run if not treated early as corneal ulcers are one of the major causes of blindness worldwide.
But, this is only one of the risks if you wear contact lenses improperly. In fact, it turns out that Malaysians very often take risks with their contact lens use! It’s easy to sometimes forget the rules and disregard them ‘for this time only lah‘.
On the topic of that, here are some things contact lens wearers take for granted that could harm them in the long run. Be honest, have you done these?
Not Washing Your Hands
Washing your hands is the most simple rule of the thumb and if you all skip it, we just, don’t know what to say. We don’t need to tell you that your hands have more germs than a toilet seat, we mean, haven’t the pandemic taught you enough about washing hands? But hey, we forgot to do it anyway. For instance, make sure to properly wash your hands after you had anything spicy. Good lord, you DO NOT want those sambal residues in your eyes!
Not Cleaning Your Lenses
If it’s daily disposables, then sure, throw it. But if it’s a monthly contact lens, do disinfect your hands and clean the lenses before storing back the lens! The rub-and-rinse technique works best to clean your lenses so that no residue or debris is left on the lens. If you don’t clean your lenses, you’re prone to get eye infections from them. Hygiene matters!
Using Your Daily Disposable Lens Repeatedly
They’re called daily disposables for a reason, sis. Daily disposable contacts are made thinner, more fragile and cannot hold moisture well for reuse. They cannot be worn overnight and they are more expensive than monthly ones too! They usually come in a box of 30 pcs as compared to only a pair for monthly ones.
Buying From Sketchy Sources
Did you know that the Medical Device Authority (MDA) prohibits the sale of optical devices or contact lenses on any e-marketing platform except for websites (managed by Registered Optometry Practitioners) with strict guidelines issued by the Malaysian Optical Council (MOC)?
So what does this mean? This means that you can’t buy contact lenses from online shops anymore (including social media stores, they’re prohibited)! Or even sketchy drugstore lenses in malls or beside street walks selling those coloured lenses.
If you want a real certified and safe lens, you need to spend a bit more on them at certified physical or online optical stores. It’s an investment, really. But a real ophthalmological centre will even teach you how to clean your lenses properly if you’re a first-timer.
Showering or Swimming With Lenses
You love swimming but you can’t see stuff clearly, automatically you’re not confident you can swim anymore. Or you forgot to take off your lens when you’re already about to shower. Meh. Shower away. Do these regularly and hey, you just might get a ticket to a hospital!
Contact lenses and tap water or any other water (pools, oceans, lakes, hot tubs) apart from the eye solution are not suitable. You can be susceptible to a condition called Acanthamoeba keratitis, where tiny parasites can infect (by sticking to the lenses) your eyes (cause white ring) and cause permanent vision loss if not treated early enough. Warning: distressing images.
So alternatively when swimming, you can opt for vision corrected goggles (buy the anti-fog ones) or wear DAILY disposable lenses while wearing normal goggles. While still not recommended, at least you can throw away the lens when you finish swimming instead of wearing the infected ones again for the monthly ones. You can also opt for Lasik or Lasek surgery to permanently solve any eye issue but hey, not all of us are walking with a ton load of money in the bank. Best to start saving now.
Not Replacing Your Contact Lens Case
There’s a reason why contact lens solution gives you free lens casing every time you buy them. They’re not just you know, generous, but it is actually compulsory to change your contact lens casing every 3 months as they will likely increase the risk of infection if not changed. It’s the same with monthly lenses or the solution itself. They have an expiration date.
They can’t even be stored near heat. Exposure of your cases to heat can dry out your contact lens and may compromise its quality. Also, you cant reuse your contact solution in the casing as it needs to be replaced every time you store it. It’ll be a breeding site for germs if you don’t change it regularly.
Being Near A Heat Source
No, your lenses WILL NOT MELT into your eyeballs and cause blindness if you sit too close to a BBQ pit or simply cook in a kitchen. That’s actually fake news as most experts say that it’s nearly impossible for a contact lens to melt in your eyes. Lenses are even sterilized in extremely hot boiling water before being sold to us so they pretty much can withstand heat.
However, you do need to steer away from places with smoke or steam. Remove them when you’re in a sauna or spa as your sweat can get into your eyes and cause an infection with the lenses. Smoke can be drying to your eyes and cause discomfort.
Using Emergency Lubricant
We can’t believe we have to even say this but DO NOT PUT YOUR CONTACTS IN YOUR MOUTH to lubricate it. Or even rinse it in tap water and then put it back on. Big mistake. According to an optometrist and contact lens specialist with UCLA Health, being a dark and moist place, your mouth makes an ideal living environment for many different types of bacteria and that will lead to infections.
We know, we know, ‘emergency‘ tips in case your lens fell out and hit other surfaces, and you haven’t got your glasses with you. Hence, always bring your glasses or your contact cases with fresh contact lens solution when you’re out and about.
Sleeping With Your Lenses Still On
Well, what about naps? The safe answer is still a no. Experts suggest removing them even if you want to take a nap as sleeping while wearing lenses regularly can lead to an eye infection. No, the lens won’t go to the back of your head but it will dry your eyes. Contacts cover the surface of your eyes cutting the amount of oxygen (that’s why you need to pick the ones with high water/oxygen content) and moisture in your eyes and this act significantly increases while you’re asleep.
All in all, contact lense are indeed safe IF you properly care for them and use a certified one. You may have done all or some of the things above and never gotten a bad outcome. Your luck is just that great maybe. But do not encourage anyone else to do the same because we all have different possibilities, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Be hygienic, be safe and always be mindful when dealing with your eyes.