6 Contact Lens Hygiene Habits You May Have Been Getting Wrong

contact lens bad habits

Everyone who has tried on contact lenses would remember their first purchase at the optician. Standing there for a good 30 minutes trying to get your eye to team up with your finger so you can stick the lenses in, while other customers look on. The quick 5-minute hygiene crash course on how to clean and store your lenses, which you diligently listen to because these are foreign objects you stick into your eye.

But as the months (or years) pass, how many of you are guilty of the not-so-great contact lens hygiene habits listed below?

1. Your contact lens is hurting you, and you have no disinfecting solution handy, so you use water (or saliva) to clean it

When you don’t have any contact lens solution available, what do you do? Is water your go to option? We’ve also heard of people using their saliva. Um… yeah, not just gross, but also not a great idea. Your saliva contains bacteria that’s meant to be in your mouth, not your eye. Using saliva to clean your lenses will just put you on the highway to conjunctivits. And water contains microorganisms which may cause very serious eye infections (that can possibly lead to blindness).

What’s better: Always carry a travel-sized bottle of disinfecting solution around (and check the expiry date often). If it’s an emergency, there’s always a chance someone else has it. Ask your friends or colleagues if they have a bottle handy.

2. After wearing your lenses in the morning, you rinse the case with tap water and close the lids

Like mentioned above, water contains microorganisms that shouldn’t come in contact with your lenses. Rinsing it with water and then closing the case before drying it out will retain moisture in the case. When you reuse it in the evening, you’ll be contaminating your lenses.

What’s better: Rinse the lens case with saline or your contact lens solution. Let the case air-dry completely in dust-free environment before shutting the lids.

3. You have been using the same contact lens case since 2008

Unfortunately, retro is not the in thing for contact lens cases. We suggest you to dump that case in the bin right now. We don’t even want to think about how much bacteria is calling your case home. Nuh-uh. Also, for those of you who think that your lens cases look clean, it’s still important to replace them once in a while. No matter how vigorous you are with cleaning, there’s going to be sneaky bacteria calling it home. Better to dump it than regret it.

What’s better: Replace your lens case once a month, tops. Disinfecting solutions usually come with one free case per bottle (and if you’re diligently cleaning your lenses daily, you’d finish one bottle a month).

4. You’ve been using the same monthly disposable lenses for about three months now 

Maybe you’re just really bad at remembering dates, or maybe you’re a scrooge. Whatever the reason, wearing your lenses past its useful date is a bad idea. The expiry date is there for a reason. After the good-for-use period, your lens will start to show signs of wear and tear, and can become a magnet for breeding bacteria (which will lead to eye irritation, dry eye, infection, or worse). You don’t want your eyes to be a petri dish now, do you?

What’s better: Ensure you use your lenses ONLY as long as the box tells you to. If it’s a daily, toss it out after the 24-hour mark. If it’s a monthly, 30 days and in the bin it goes. Here’s a contact lens app to help you remember when it’s time to say goodbye.

5. You like doing your makeup before putting your lenses on 

Some of your mascara or eyeliner (and other creams and oils) could actually get on the lenses as you place them in. And these will stay. And pollute. You don’t want puffy red eyes marring your tastefully done makeup do you?

What’s better: Put your lenses on before your makeup. Same rule applies when removing makeup: remove your lenses then only your makeup.

6. You sleep in your contact lenses 

Your eye needs to breathe and sleeping with lenses in your eyes curb the oxygen flow. This can lead to bacteria growth and increase your risk of infection. While there are certain types of lenses which are approved for overnight use (usually up to seven days), it’s best to consult a professional optometrist before taking that shut-eye.

What’s better: Take them off before you snooze. Your eyes are worth an extra five minutes of your time.


Have some other tips on how to properly care for your contact lenses? Leave them in the comments below or on our Facebook page!


Written by: Jolene Foo
Sources: All About VisionCNIBNHSDepartment of Health, Hong KongMayo ClinicEyeSmartOnly Health

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