How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy While Wearing Contacts

tips and recommendations for a healthy eyes

With the global contact lens market expected to reach $13.47 billion by 2027, according to Grand View Research, the number of people turning to contacts for vision correction is steadily growing. However, amidst this increasing popularity, there’s a pressing need to focus on eye health. Contact lenses provide a convenient alternative to glasses for vision correction. However, wearing contacts also comes with some risks that require proper care and hygiene to avoid eye health issues. Here are some tips from eye doctors on keeping your eyes healthy with contact lenses.

Common Eye Health Problems

eye health problems

The most common problem associated with wearing contacts is eye infections. The CDC estimates that around 1 million cases of corneal ulcers occur annually in the U.S. due to contact lens wear and improper care. To prevent infections:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling lenses. Don’t expose lenses to tap water as it contains microbes.
  • Clean contact lenses daily using fresh disinfecting solution – never reuse old solution. Rub and rinse the lenses per manufacturer instructions.
  • Replace contact lens cases every 3-6 months since bacteria can build up over time.
  • Give your eyes a break by taking lenses out for 6-8 hours a day if wearing extended/overnight lenses.
  • Visit an optometrist annually for eye exams to check for any abnormalities or changes to your vision.

Dry eyes are another issue exacerbated by contacts. A study in Optometry and Vision Science found that 76% of contact lens wearers experience dry eye symptoms. To keep eyes lubricated:

  • Use artificial tear eye drops during the day as needed for moisture. Preservative-free drops are best for contacts.
  • Choose daily disposable lenses if you experience chronic dryness. Frequent replacement minimizes irritation.
  • Take short contact lens breaks throughout the day. Even 5 minutes can help replenish the tear film.
  • Adjust environmental factors like humidity at home/work, air vents, and screen time.
  • Lastly, be vigilant about adhering to replacement schedules. The FDA recommends replacing daily lenses every day, two-week lenses every 2 weeks, and monthly lenses once a month. Old lenses accumulate deposits, tear film residues, and micro-tears that impact vision and eye health over time.

What About Wearing Contacts Over Glasses, Vice Versa, or Together –  What’s Healthier?

wearing contact lenses tips and recommendations

Some people think wearing contact lenses over glasses may be better for your eyes than either option alone. Is there any truth to this?

The idea is that glasses provide protection for the eyes from debris, UV light, and injuries while contacts correct vision issues. Together, they could theoretically provide the maximum eye health benefits.

However, most optometrists don’t recommend wearing contacts over glasses as a rule. This combination can cause discomfort and vision changes from improper lens fitting. The contact lens can press against the eye awkwardly when sandwiched between the eye and glasses in some cases.

Wearing disposable contacts first and then switching to glasses later in the day could be an option. But for full-time use, it’s best to choose one primary vision correction method based on your eye health, prescription needs, and lifestyle.

There are no known long-term benefits from switching to one form of eye correction over the other, apart from the lower risk of eye infections with wearing glasses. Contacts and glasses can both be safe, healthy options when worn and cared for properly. Some key factors optometrists consider when recommending one over the other include your cornea health, dry eye status, sports and activities, your level of discipline with adhering to lens care when it comes to contacts and prescription strength.

Talk to your eye doctor about whether contacts, glasses, or a combination makes the most sense for your eyes. They can assess your ocular health and vision needs to guide the best solution. With the right choice and proper care, both contacts and glasses can help you see clearly while protecting your eye health.

Summary

With proper hygiene, care, and regular eye exams, you can enjoy the convenience of contact lenses while maintaining good eye health. Report any abnormal symptoms like pain, light sensitivity, discharge, or vision changes to your eye doctor promptly. Consistent contact lens care is key to avoiding long-term eye problems.