How safe are contact lenses?

When used properly, contact lenses are a safe way to ensure perfect vision. But if worn incorrectly, there is a chance that wearing contact lenses can damage the eyes, so it is vitally important to know what to avoid.

Remember to let your eyes breathe easily

One of the dangers associated with wearing contact lenses is a reduction in the amount of oxygen reaching the front surface of your eye. As your lenses reach across the cornea (the outer part of the eye) if worn for too long they can restrict the amount of oxygen flowing to the eye. This can lead to the appearance of red veins growing in the cornea, as the eye tries to access oxygen, and this can lead to warping of the cornea and impaired vision if the eye continues to be starved of oxygen.

It is easy to avoid restricting the oxygen supply to your eyes by following simple advice.

  • Remember not to wear contact lenses for too long at a time, it's best to keep a pair of glasses handy so you can give your eyes a break when needed. For most lenses, that period is around 10 hours, although specialist lenses can be purchased which last for longer.

  • You might also consider trying silicone hydrogel lenses. These lenses allow around 5 times as much oxygen to reach the cornea as normal lenses, decreasing the risk of oxygen deprivation.

Keep those lenses squeaky clean

Caring for your lenses properly can help avoid infection

Eye problems can also develop due to the use of dirty contact lenses. During regular use, bacteria and grime develops on the front and back of contact lenses.

The number of people suffering infections due to regular lens wearing is low, with experts at the Brien Holden Institute finding that about 4 out of 20,000 daily contact lens wearers develop an eye infection every year.

Yet the effects of infections can be severe. Infectious diseases like conjunctivitis can cause intense discomfort, but more serious conditions can lead to blindness.

Eye experts recommend that lens wearers use contact lens solutions recommended by their opticians to disinfect their lenses after using them. And although many cleaning solutions are labelled as "no rub" products, experts also think that rubbing the lenses while washing can remove even more dirt and bacteria.

Another thing that many contact lens wearers forget to think about is how their lenses are stored. Contact lens cases can be a source of infection as well, and it is sensible to disinfect your lens cases regularly, and replace it after around 3 months of use.

It is also very important to use properly concentrated lens cleaning solution. Don't just top up yesterday's solution. Doing so reduces the effectiveness of cleaning products and raises the risk of infection.

Listen to the experts and keep to a schedule

When using any medication it is important to keep to a schedule, and contact lenses are no different. When you are prescribed your lenses, your optician will recommend a routine that you should stick to. They will suggest the amount of time that lenses should be worn for and inform you about the right cleaning products to use, and how often.

Don't cut corners by topping up cleaning products, keep your lenses clean and be careful not to over wear them, and you will have eliminated the major risks of contact lens wearing.

Contact lenses are a safe and effective way to improve your eyesight, but like any treatment, they come with risks. Thankfully, these risks can be easily managed with a little care and attention, so purchase the right lenses for you with and wear them in complete safety.