As a contact lens wearer, it is important to take extra steps to ensure your eyes remain healthy. Improper care of your contact lenses can put you at risk for eye infections, such as keratitis, which can lead to vision impairment and loss. Here are three tips to help keep your eyes healthy while you enjoy the benefits of better vision with contact lenses.

Wash Your Face and Hands

The best way to prevent an eye infection from bacteria, fungus, or a virus is to always wash your hands and face with soap and water before you handle your contact lenses to remove them or place them in your eyes. Washing only your hands with soap and water is not enough to prevent a microbe from getting onto your contact and into your eye, causing an eye infection. As you insert and remove your contacts it can be common to touch your face, and in doing so, you can pick up foreign materials and microbes that end up on your lenses. 

Washing your hands with warm water and soap before handling your contacts can also help eliminate the occurrence of any particles of dust, dirt, or other debris getting onto your contacts and making your contacts uncomfortable on your eyes. As an added step, wash your face with a warm, wet wash cloth, rubbing and cleaning the surfaces of your skin around your eyes and over your eyelids. Use a small amount of baby shampoo on the wash cloth as you cleanse your face and around your eyes to prevent eye irritation.

Clean Your Lenses and Case

Each time you remove your lenses for storage, you should take some time to clean them to remove bacteria, viruses, and other debris. Follow the directions on your storage and cleaning solution to ensure you rinse or rub your lenses for the appropriate amount of time. Then, if your eye doctor recommends you use a weekly hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution on your lenses, use this as well. When you use hydrogen peroxide lens cleaners, be sure to thoroughly rinse your lenses with contact solution before you place them back into your eyes, as hydrogen peroxide can cause severe irritation to your sensitive eye tissues. 

After you remove your lenses from their case, it is necessary to clean your case. Rinse out the lens case with lens solution and rub both reservoirs of your case with your finger to remove any buildup. Dry your contact lens case with a clean towel and place it face down on a clean tissue with the caps off. Never use water to rinse your case or your lenses, because water can contain microbes that can transfer from your contact to your eyes and cause infection and other eye problems.

Follow Replacement Recommendations

It is never recommended to reuse your contact lens solution. After your lens storage solution has been sitting inside your lens case for several hours, the disinfectant within the lens solution dissipates from the solution. It is best to dump out your solution after your remove your lenses from your case. And you should also never leave old solution inside the case and top it off with fresh solution. The disinfectant in the lens solution needs to be full strength for it to remove and kill any microbes from your lenses.

Your contact lens case can also collect a buildup of contaminants and germs that can lead to eye infections, so it is a smart idea to replace your lens case with a new one at least every three months. If you have had an eye infection, replace your case with a new one.

Just as you replace your solution daily and your lens case every three months, it is also important to replace your contact lenses following the manufacturer's instructions. For example, if you have disposable contact lenses that can be worn for one week or one month, replace them after this time has elapsed. Wearing lenses longer can increase your chance of an eye infection or inflammation of your cornea.

Use these three tips to help keep your eyes healthy while you wear eye contacts.