Contact lens related infections don’t happen very often but it is important to know how to reduce the risks. Many people who wear contact lenses do not know that contact lenses and water are a bad combination –even when showering, swimming or using a hot tub.
Water can introduce germs to the eyes through contact lenses
Water can cause soft contact lenses to change shape, swell and stick to the eye. This is uncomfortable and can scratch the cornea (the clear dome that covers the coloured part of the eye), which makes it easier for germs to enter the eye and cause infection. Most water is not germ-free. There are many different kinds of germs in water that can cause eye infections, but a particularly dangerous is an amoeba called Acanthamoeba - is commonly found in tap water, lake water, well water and other water sources. This germ can cause a very severe type of eye infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis, which is often very painful and difficult to treat - sometimes requiring a year or more of treatment. Although rare, this type of infection can result in the need for a corneal transplant or blindness.
Keep contact lenses and your contact lens case away from all water
For contact lens wearers, it is best to remove lenses before showering, swimming or using a hot tub and contact lenses should never be rinsed or stored in water. It is also important to wash and dry hands well before handling lenses and to clean contact lens cases with solution, never water, to avoid contamination. For those who are actively involved in swimming or other water sports and are concerned about being able to see well enough without wearing lenses, prescription goggles may be a good option.
Throw away contact lenses that touch water
If water touches contact lenses for any reason, take them out as soon as possible and throw them away.
Dry your hands
Infections with contact lenses are very rare, especially with daily disposable lenses. Some cases of infection have been attributed to not drying hands thoroughly after washing them.
Enjoy your lenses & be eye-safe by following this advice and other tips given at your regular aftercare appointments.