Contact Lenses (cont.)
What Are Tips for Preventing Contact Lens Problems?
Wearing correct-fitting lenses, using the correct care regimen, and undergoing periodic follow-up examinations by the fitter should prevent most problems.
- Cleanliness is essential. Do not handle contact lenses without first washing your hands. Contact-lens cases must be cleaned every day by rinsing with a multi-purpose solution and letting them air dry upside down. Always be sure to fully discard the old solution and replace with new solution when storing lenses overnight. They should be replaced at least every three months because they may serve as a culture medium for bacteria and fungi.
- Use of rewetting drops while wearing contact lenses maintains and aids in comfortable wear. These are available over the counter. Typically, these drops are used four times a day.
- Any contact lens wearer must follow the general rules of good hygiene. The wearer must also be motivated and mature enough to follow the instructions for avoidance of problems. For this reason, some fitters will not fit children.
- Children must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. More recently, orthokeratology has been gaining traction in the U.S. Orthokeratology is the use of RGPs to wear during sleep to reshape the cornea. Its use is most effective in children because there is an opportunity to limit the amount of myopia (nearsightedness) they develop.
- In young children (younger than 8-9 years of age), contact lenses are usually prescribed for medical reasons only. For example, after congenital cataract surgery, contact lenses offer essentially normal vision without the use of thick glasses. Parents assume the responsibility for the correct care and wearing of the lenses.
- Different types of lenses have different care routines. In general, lens care involves rinsing of the lenses upon removal, cleaning the lenses, and storing them in a disinfecting solution. Homemade or non-contact-lens saline or solutions should never be used. Only use the solutions that are recommended.
- The lenses should be worn and discarded as directed. If lenses are to be replaced on a scheduled basis (for example, daily, weekly), it is a false economy and dangerous to try to extend the lenses by replacing them less often.
- The safest way to wear lenses is to wear them on a daily basis and discard them every day. This avoids the use of solutions and decreases handling. However, it is slightly more expensive, and daily disposable lenses are not available in all prescriptions.
- Overnight wear of contact lenses is available for certain prescriptions. Although approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this is not believed to be safe by many fitters because of the increased rate of infections with extended wear. The authors are advocates of well-fit extended-wear contact lenses (by reliable patients) if they adhere to the rules and are followed correctly).
- Most complications may be eliminated by meticulous wear and care by the wearer and following instructions meticulously as well as getting follow-up examinations by the fitter.
- It is essential to be examined by your ophthalmologist, optometrist, or other fitter at least once a year and more often if extended wear lenses are worn. Every examination should, at a minimum, include a history as to how the lenses are cared for and to find out if there are any problems. The vision should be checked with the contact lenses, and the lenses should be observed on the eye with the slit lamp (a special microscope used in the office to examine eyes). An evaluation of the vision with glasses (after removing the contact lenses) should also be performed.
- The examination also includes an examination of the shape of the cornea. No distortion or changes should be present. The cornea, as well as the rest of the eye, should be evaluated and measured, along with an evaluation for the possible presence of any eye diseases, such as glaucoma or cataracts.
In most cases, contact-lens problems are managed with no permanent damage. Usually the patient may return to normal contact-lens use and care.
There is constant research being carried out to develop new lens materials and designs as well as new solutions for care. It is rare to switch a patient to a new lens unless there is a reason for it (for example, a patient may no longer tolerate his or her lenses but will be able to resume lens wear with a new lens type or solution).
For more information on contact lenses, visit the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists at http://www.CLAO.org and http://www.contactlensdocs.com/.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/1/2016
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