Last month, doctors found a whopping 27 contact lenses stuck in a 67-year-old woman’s eye. For obvious reasons, this had a lot of contacts-wearers questioning their own bad habits when it comes to their lenses, so we reached out to Dr. Edward Bennett, O.D., American Optometric Association Contact Lens and Cornea Section chair and assistant dean at University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry, to see what our contact-wearing readers should do so they can continue, well, reading. Here’s everything you should never, ever do when wearing and applying contacts:
Sleeping (or Napping) While Wearing Contacts
While some contacts are approved for overnight wear, most aren’t, and sleeping while wearing contacts designed strictly for daily wear can result in a serious eye infection. “Wearing contact lenses overnight cuts off the oxygen supply to your cornea, which causes it to swell,” Bennett explains. “As a result, the cornea begins to break down and begins to lose cells.” This can cause a break in the cornea, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, increases your chance of obtaining an eye infection by at least six times.
Showering (or Swimming) While Wearing Contact Lenses
“There’s an organism in any form of tap water called acanthamoeba, and while it’s rare, there’s a significant chance you’ll require a corneal transplant if it causes an eye infection,” Bennett says. “It’s pretty devastating to the eye.” Again, showering and swimming while wearing contacts aren’t the only culprits here—washing your lenses with tap water instead of contact solution in a pinch also puts you at risk. Needless to say: Do not lick your contacts.
Not Replacing Your Contact Lens Case
Storage cases should be replaced at least every three months, according to the American Optometric Association (Bennett recommends tossing it every month just to be safe). That’s because, over time, these cases become loaded with bacteria hoping to make a home of your contacts, then your eyeballs. “You should also rinse out any leftover solution in your lens case every night,” Bennett advises. “If you top off your solution every night, the leftover solution already in there will become contaminated with bacteria, putting you at risk of infection.”
Of course, there’s always the option of avoiding all these risks by wearing glasses instead. They might not be the most convenient, but they sure as heck can be sexy.