Contact Lenses 101

Confessions of a Contact Lens Wearer

I’ve been wearing contact lenses for over eight years. I change my contact lens case every three months. I always use fresh solution to clean my lenses. I survived a terrifying ordeal involving contacts and jalapeños at an Amtrak station in Seattle (pro tip: don’t rub your eyeball if you’ve just touched a jalapeño. Even pro-er tip: if you get jalapeño in one eye, don’t proceed to rub the other eye and transfer jalapeño juice to both eyes). I practically wrote the book on how to be a perfect contact lens wearer. I own wearing contact lenses, like a boss. Right?

Mmmm… no.

My illusion of being the prime example of a perfect contact lens wearer was shattered when I started working at Sightbox. It’s not that I’m a terrible contact lens wearer—I’m pretty good, most of the time. But I realized, working at Sightbox, that pretty good isn’t good enough—not when it comes to my eyes. I mean, I only have one pair.

So here are some bad habits I’m kicking to the curb—and why you should too, if you want to keep your eyeballs healthy and truly become the master of wearing contact lenses:

  • Sleeping in My Contacts

What I Used to Think: It’s just a nap! An hour or two of sleeping in my contacts isn’t gonna hurt anybody.

Science Says: Sleeping in your contacts is a bad, bad, bad idea. When you sleep in your contacts, you deprive your eyes of oxygen and nutrients, since the contacts create a barrier between your cornea and the aqueous humor–the source of nourishment and lubrication for your peepers while you catch some Z’s.

  • Showering in My Contacts

What I Used to Think: It’s just water— mean, I shower in it, I drink it, so what if I get a little bit in my eyes? Besides, I close my eyes when I wash my hair, so I don’t get soap in my contacts.

         Science Says: No. Just no. Tap water can contain an amoeba called Acanthamoeba, which can lead to an Acanthamoeba keratitis infection if the water gets trapped under contacts. This is quite serious and can lead to vision impairment and even permanent blindness. So put down that shampoo bottle and take your contacts out before you shower.

  • Overwearing My Contacts

        Ok, so I’m not actually guilty of this, because like I said, I’m not that bad of a contact lens wearer. But my coworker Ellen confessed to this crime. Her words: “I should be in jail for how often I overwear my contacts.”

Science Says: Do you like the idea of germs swarming all over your eyeballs? When you overwear your contacts, you’re wearing contacts that are steadily breaking down and exposing you to germs and proteins that can lead to an infection. Contact lenses are like milk: they have an expiration date, and you wouldn’t drink milk after it expires, would you?

Ellen Says: The worst thing that’s happened is that I was on my last pair of contacts and my right one fell out so I lived with one contact in and I was driving one day and accidentally drove up on the curb and hit a trash can.

Let’s keep our neighborhood trashcans safe. Don’t overwear your contacts.

We’re all prone to bad habits—after all, we’re only human. But with something as precious as your eyes, you really shouldn’t take any chances. Keeping your eyes healthy doesn’t stop at the optometrist—you have the power to keep your vision at its sharpest by diligently caring for your contacts on a daily basis.

What’s your worst contact lens crime? We won’t judge. Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and spill your guts.