Oops; did you hop in the shower wearing your contact lenses? If you are wearing a pair of soft disposable contacts, like Air Optix Aqua or Biofinity lenses, go ahead and enjoy a steamy, hot shower for a few minutes. After you step out of the tub, pop out your contacts and toss them in the trash. It’s extremely important that you throw your lenses away after wearing them in the shower and apply fresh lenses once you’ve toweled off as wearing disposable contacts more than once may be harmful to your vision.
If your contact lenses were not disposable, tap water, soap or shampoo may have come into contact with your lenses. Dry yourself off, remove and clean the contact lenses using a proper and detailed sterilization process.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showering while wearing your contact lenses can subject you to several risk factors if your lenses come into contact with tap water. Depending on where you live, or where you may be visiting, some tap water may contain miniature bacteria, microbes or other contaminants that can initiate an eye infection.
Of course the same rules apply to wearing your contact lenses in swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes or even the ocean. The Food and Drug Administration recommends removing contact lenses before any activity involving water. Contact lens patients should not wear their contacts while in the shower, swimming in a lake or the ocean, or even entering a chlorinated pool or a hot tub. All of these seemingly benign water sources can contain an amoeba known as Acanthamoeba. Acanthamoeba can enter the eye, become trapped under the contact lens, and create an eye infection known as Acanthamoeba Keratitis. This condition causes pain, swelling and, in worst case scenarios, malformation of the eye. Acanthamoeba Keratitis is a bacteria that harms the cornea of the eye. Affected persons can experience blurred vision, sensitivity to light, excessive tearing and eye pain.
Tap water should never come in contact with reusable contact lenses. A common mistake that some wearers make is rinsing out their lens case with tap water. It is best to always remain diligent, and clean and disinfect contact lenses using the solutions a doctor has prescribed for safety.
Estimates vary, but close to 24 million Americans wear contact lenses. On an average day, hundreds of them contract an eye infection from not caring for their contacts in the way their eye care professional or manufacturer recommended on the label.
Tips for Keeping Your Contact Lenses Bacteria-Free
- Never “top off” the solution in your lens case. Always throw old solution away.
- Never rinse your contacts or your contact case in tap water. Only use the recommended saline solution from your eye physician.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before touching your contact lenses.
- Remove contact lenses before showering, swimming or hot tubing.
- Never spit on your contact lenses. Spit contains bacteria.
- Wear your contacts for the prescribed length of time recommended by your eye physician. Do not wear them past their recommended date.
- Contact lens cases should be replaced on average every three months.