Since COVID-19 landed early in 2020, we’ve all become much more aware of the importance of cleaning and sanitizing everything we touch. For those of us who depend on vision correction to live our best lives, it’s become even more important. With medical professionals cautioning us to avoid touching our eyes, is it even safe to wear your contact lenses?
The short answer is yes – if you take care of them correctly and make sure you take the proper precautions when you handle them. However, your optometrist may recommend you suspend your use of contact lenses during the coronavirus outbreak, especially if you have underlying health conditions or a greater than average risk of exposure to the virus.
If you do decide to continue wearing your contact lenses, how you clean them properly will depend on what type they are. Most people who aren’t familiar with contact lenses assume incorrectly that everyone nowadays is wearing single use, disposable lenses that don’t require cleaning. These types of lenses aren’t suitable for every prescription, so there are still a wide variety of contact lenses available to the general public, which all need to be cleaned and stored properly.
Always, Always, Always Wash Your Hands First!
This is true all the time, not just during this COVID-19 outbreak. Use an antibacterial soap if possible, rinse thoroughly and dry with a lint-free towel. Don’t use oil or lotion-based soaps, which can cloud or contaminate your lenses.
Never Put Your Contact Lenses in Your Mouth!
Your mouth has more bacteria than your eye, and different kinds of bacteria. Saliva is probably the most unsanitary way to moisten or store contact lenses. Always use FRESH contact lens solution each time you clean and store your lenses. Water (tap or bottled), saline solution or rewetting drops aren’t designed to disinfect your lenses either. Don’t transfer solution from the factory bottles to smaller containers for traveling or to keep in your purse. It can compromise the sterility of the solution, as will touching the dropper or leaving the bottle uncapped.
Getting on Your Case…
Even though it’s tempting, don’t reuse the solution in your contact lens case. Be sure to flush out your storage case with fresh solution after you put your lenses in every day, leave the case open and turn it upside down to dry thoroughly. Don’t use water to clean your cases; it can contain microorganisms and impurities that can cause infections. It’s also a good idea to keep your cases in a room other than the bathroom, where high humidity levels and proximity to the toilet can increase opportunities for mildew and germs to take hold. It’s always a good idea to have several cases available to you, so you’re always sure to have one that’s clean. Make sure to replace your cases every three months.
Let Your Fingers Do the Work…
Studies show that rubbing your lenses carefully between your fingers is the best cleaning method to use, even if you’re using a solution labeled “no rub”. The gentle motion dislodges microscopic debris clinging to your lenses. Don’t let your fingernails touch your lenses. Not only can they damage the lenses, no matter how well you wash your hands, dirt and bacterial can still linger under your nails.
Retire Your Lenses on Time
Unless your lenses are designed for overnight wear, make sure not to sleep in them. Bacteria can build up overnight, or your eyes can become irritated and swollen. If you’re wearing lenses designed for limited wear, don’t push that length of time. Discard your lenses after 30 days if that’s the suggested wearing schedule. It’s also a great idea to give your eyes some time to relax and recharge. Every eye doctor will tell you it’s smart to switch to glasses for a few hours each day to let your eyes rest.
So How Should You Clean Your Glasses?
Follow these easy steps to make sure they’re always ready to go.
- Wash and dry your hands thoroughly.
- Rinse your glasses with lukewarm tap water. Avoid hot water, which can damage some eyeglass lens coatings.
- Apply a small drop of dishwashing liquid to the lenses. Remember that dishwashing liquid is very concentrated. Do not use liquids including lotions.
- Clean every part, including the nose pads and the sides, all the way to the ends of the temples. Clean the rim where the edge of the lenses meets the frame to remove dust, debris and skin oils.
- Rinse both sides of the lenses and the frame thoroughly to remove all soap residue.
- Gently shake the glasses to eliminate most of the water from the lenses.
- Carefully dry the lenses and frame with a clean, lint-free towel that has not been washed with fabric softener or a dryer sheet. Residues from these products can smear your lenses. Try microfiber or a softer, well-worn 100% cotton towel.
- To help keep them clean, store your glasses in a case whenever you aren’t wearing them.
If you need to clean your glasses and don't have soap and water available, use pre-moistened disposable lens cleaning wipes or lens spray kits formulated specifically for use on eyeglasses.
Eyeglass cleaning Don’ts…
- DON'T risk scratching your lenses by using your shirttail or sleeve to clean your glasses, especially when the lenses are dry.
- DON'T use saliva to wipe your lenses.
- DON'T use glass or surface cleaners on your eyeglasses. They can use ingredients that will damage lens coatings, such as anti-reflective treatments.
- DON'T use paper towels, napkins, tissues or toilet paper to clean your lenses. These can scratch or smear your lenses or leave them full of lint.
- DON'T try to "buff away" a scratch in your lenses. Leave this job to the professionals.
If you want more tips on caring for your contacts or pampering your latest designer frames, or need a vision exam to perfect your prescription, call 713-360-7095 today to schedule a visit with the team at Pro-Optix Eye Care!