Can contact lenses cause eye infection?
Many people who wear contacts, or who are thinking about it, wonder if contacts can cause or increase the chances of catching an eye infection. The answer is – not really, as long as you’re careful in how you care for your contacts.
First of all, the risks of catching an eye infection are generally the same. If you come in contact with someone who has an infection, and you touch their hand after they’ve touched their eye, and then you touch your eye, you’re likely to catch the infection whether you wear contacts or not.
Your chances of catching an infection may increase if you remove them during the day and put them back in without any disinfectant solution (some people find that if they need to remove their contact, usually because there’s something in their eye, that their eye is tearing enough that they really don’t need any solution). If you must remove your contact for any reason, always use disinfectant solution to rinse it before you put it back in.
You should also wash your hands before you touch your contacts (or anywhere near your eyes). Sometimes this isn’t possible; just make sure you use disinfectant solution. If your hands are at all oily or sweaty or sticky, make sure you at least rinse them off before handling your contacts. These substances can easily get into your contacts and they won’t go away easily. You can tell that something’s wrong if you rinse your contact with solution in your hand, and the remaining solution inside the contact is cloudy. In this case, rinse it again.
If you come into contact with someone who has an eye infection and you’re afraid that you may have touched your own eye, throw away the pair of contacts you are wearing. If you develop an eye infection, throw away whatever contacts you were wearing when you developed it and don’t wear a new pair until the infection is cleared up. Even if you disinfect the lenses, the infection could still linger and re-infect your eye. Most people who get frequent eye infections while using contact lenses are likely re-infecting themselves by continuing to wear contacts during infections and assuming that their disinfectant solution will clear the contacts of infection.
Always have a pair of glasses that you can wear in case of eye infection or irritation. Switching off and wearing glasses at night or on the weekends can prevent your eyes from becoming too irritated by the contacts, and makes it less likely that you’ll get eye infections.
There are a couple irritation factors that are BETTER with contacts, like chopping onions. Without contacts, the onion can get directly to your eye and make it tear. However, while wearing contacts, there’s a layer between the onion and your eye, and you will probably experience less tearing.
However, stronger chemicals can get into your contacts and cause problems, so if you ever have to work with anything particularly strong (paint thinner, any kind of chemist environment), either wear safety goggles or wear your glasses instead. If you wear your contacts in these unsafe environments, when fumes can get into your contacts, you are at risk for severe eye irritation and possibly infection. There should be warning labels on particular chemicals or outside chemistry labs that tell you if it is not safe to wear your contacts.
With a few easy safety precautions, and properly caring for your lenses, there’s no reason why a contact-wearer should experience anymore eye infections than anyone else.
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