Funny but dangerous
Beer maybe the favourite tipple of a certain Homer Simpson, but when it comes to cleaning contact lenses using anything but a recommended cleaning solution, then a resounding ‘D’oh!’ should be uttered loudly. Two recent studies from the USA and the UK have highlighted the fact that too many contact lens wearers do not take contact lens hygiene seriously enough. Some of the bizarre solutions that have been reported as substitutes for contact lens solution include beer, lemonade and fruit juice, to name just some. While trying to clean contact lenses with beer might be a method that our yellow cartoon friend above might favour, it could in fact damage your eyes.
What are the risks?
While infections are uncommon if the proper procedures are followed, contact lens wearers who do not follow hygiene rules may expose themselves unnecessarily to painful infections and in the worst case scenario even blindness. Infections can occur, for example, if bacteria or fungi build up on the contact lens as a result of not disinfecting them properly.
Simple things to avoid
You should never use tap water or any type of water to clean contact lenses because water, including fresh and seawater, chlorinated water in swimming pools, tap water and even bottled water, can contain an organism called Acanthamoeba, which can cause a painful infection and even scar the cornea, leading to permanent damage to your vision. Therefore, you should not wear contacts when you have a shower or if you go swimming. For water lovers, there are other alternatives such as prescription goggles, for example. Smokers also have a three times higher risk of getting an infection compared to non-smokers.
Five easy rules to remember
1. Follow the guidelines on the use of your lenses issued by the manufacturer and your optometrist.
2. If you use re-usable contact lenses it is vitally important to disinfect them using a proper contact lens solution. Remember too that your contact lens case can also be a source of infection.
3. If you wear disposable lenses, do not be tempted to reuse them!
4. Remember to wash your hands before handling contact lenses, irrespective of the type you use.
5. Remember to have regular check-ups with your optometrist. They can also spot other diseases at an early stage.
Types of lenses and where to get them
Consumers today face no shortage of lenses to choose from thanks to forty years of research and development by the contact lens industry. There are lenses that can correct all types of vision problems from astigmatism to one-day multifocal lenses. Multifocal lenses have in the past been a neglected area but according to industry statistics will account for the majority of sales by the end of the decade. For the cost conscious, there is a site that allows you to search by comparing contact lens prices online and so save money.