Vital Signs: Clean to prevent eye infections

By Anna Kellaher
Columnist

More than 45 million Americans wear contact lenses. They are a convenient way to correct vision problems without the hassle and appearance of glasses, but when you do not properly take care of them, they can cause eye infections.

Minor infections can cause discomfort and redness, while more serious infections can cause long term damage to your eyes, including vision loss.

Sleeping in contacts increases infection risk. (Flickr)

To minimize the risk of contact lens-related infection, closely follow all instructions from your eye doctor and use these tips from the Centers for Disease Control.

Don’t sleep with your contacts in, unless your eye doctor directed you to do so. People often sleep with their contacts in to save money or because they forget to take them out, which a lot of broke and stressed college students might also be tempted to do.

Sleeping with your contacts in is not worth the risk, as it significantly increases your risk of infection. The lens traps bacteria against your eye, so it is important to give your eyes a break, especially during the night when less oxygen is getting to your cornea.

Always use fresh contact lens solution in your case. “Topping off” old or used solution with new solution reduces its effectiveness and cleaning power. Always wash your hands with soap and water before changing your contacts.

Avoid wearing your contacts while you swim or shower. Germs from the water cling to the lens and can cause serious eye infections.

Follow these habits and contact your eye doctor with any questions to keep your eyes healthy and free of infection.