Contact lens hygiene is vital to proper contact lens wear and care. It is heard many times while in an exam room with a patient, “I just replace my contacts when they start to feel funny on my eyes.” This saying makes eye care professionals want to take a closer look at the cornea and the condition of contact lenses in order to ensure that your eyes are healthy to continue safely wearing contact lenses.
Let’s set up a scenario, imagine one day you make a chicken salad sandwich for lunch and wrap it in saran wrap. Now, let’s imagine you eat that sandwich, wash off the plastic wrap and save it for tomorrows sandwich. The next day arrives and you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Now that peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes delicious, but it has a hint of chicken salad to it. Now, I know this sounds gross to me! If you keep using that same piece of saran wrap for a month, it’s going to have a variety of unique flavors on it.
Saran wrap is a plastic which has pores in it allowing food that is wrapped in it to breathe. The pores can get stuck with material that no matter how well you clean it, the pores will never open again. Contact lenses are also a plastic and while we aren’t dipping our contacts into chicken salad and peanut butter sandwiches, your contacts can get clogged with dirt, debris and bacteria. When the pores in your contact lenses get clogged, it decreases the amount of oxygen that can flow through the lenses and reach the surface of your eye. Contact lenses have a variety of disposal schedules based on the type of lens that you are wearing. Some are daily wear, bi-weekly or even monthly.
Now, I am sure you are asking well what happens if no oxygen gets through my contact lens onto my eye? Serious ocular effects can occur which includes corneal surface dryness, new blood vessel growth onto the cornea and the most severe which includes bacterial corneal ulcers. Corneal ulcers are essentially like having a large blister on your cornea and can lead to severe pain and scarring if not treated appropriately.
If you would like to further discuss contact lens hygiene or if you would like a different modality of contact lens replacement, call 860-233-2020 to schedule an appointment with an eye care professional today. We look forward to seeing you soon!