In horror story news, a Taiwanese student has gone blind after leaving her contact lenses in for six months. How did she go blind? Oh, she developed acanthamoeba keratitis, an amoeba that ATE HER EYEBALLS. I actually cannot.
23-year-old Lian Kao left her disposable contacts in for six months straight without ever taking them out or cleaning them. She said she showered and swam in her contacts, which is likely how she developed this bacteria because they thrive in water. Although Lian Kao’s extreme contact usage led to this bacteria, it can develop in much less time according to eye doctors.
I wear contacts, and this freaked me out so much. It might seem like common sense to take your contacts out, but I’ve accidentally slept in mine a few times. You only have one set of eyes. It’s really important to take care of them and avoid making these mistakes:
Wearing Your Lenses For Too Long
Contact lenses can be monthly, bi-weekly or even daily. It's really important to not wear your lenses longer than they're intended to be used. If you have monthlies, wear them through the month and then open a new pair. If you wear dailies, apply new ones every day. Lenses are exposed to a lot of bacteria every day and become less absorbent and let in less oxygen over time. You can also develop infections and irritations from wearing contacts longer than you should. So just open a new pair when you actually should!
Swimming Or Showering In Your Lenses
Showering or swimming in contacts are major no-nos because exposure to water can dehydrate your contacts and leave your eyes susceptible to water-thriving bacteria like Lian Kao. Contacts are like sponges when exposed to water and will literally absorb every nasty thing that you don't want in your eyes.
Not Rinsing Your Contact Lenses
Just plopping your contacts into solution when you take them out isn't enough. Make sure your hands are clean when you take your lenses out and place them in your palm with solution. Carefully rub them around in the solution to clean them. Then place them in fresh solution.
Not Changing Your Solution
I know a lot of people who use the same solution in their case for a few days. Umm, please don't do this. You should empty your case every day and rinse it out with solution (because tap water is bad for your eyes) before refilling it. Letting your contacts fester in bacteria-filled solution is bad news for your eyeballs. Also, contact solution contains salt. If you've ever left solution out in the open, you'll notice it crystallizes into little salt formations. That can happen when you use the same solution for too long, and you can end up with salt in your contacts. Ouch!
Putting On Makeup Before Inserting Lenses
You should always put your makeup on AFTER inserting your contacts. This reduces the risk of makeup particles getting trapped in between your eye and lens.
Not Removing Lenses Before Taking Off Eye Makeup
Using eye makeup remover or even facial cleanser while your contacts are in is a big mistake. Exposing your lenses to regular water is already bad enough, but contaminating them with makeup remover or cleanser isn't good either. All those makeup particles can cause harm to your lenses by scratching or tearing them. If you want clean lenses, remove them before taking your makeup off.
Not Wearing Sunglasses Outside
Even contact lenses with UV protection don't provide enough protection for your eyes against the sun. Your eyes are very sensitive and can sustain a lot of damage from UV rays. Always make sure you're wearing sunglasses even when you have contacts in. And if you wear glasses, seriously consider investing in prescription sunglasses as well.
Sleeping In Your Lenses
Nope, nope, nope! This is a fast way to screw up your eyes. When you sleep in your contacts, you're essentially suffocating your eyeballs. They can't get oxygen so you'll wake up with dry eyes and sticky-feeling contacts. This is not only bad for your eyes but also extremely dangerous because removing dry contacts can cause damage to your cornea. Seriously, you can remove part of your eye if you do this. You can also lose a contact in the back of your eye because of movement when you sleep. Yikes!
Not Giving Your Eyes A Break
If you wear contacts, you probably wear them from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. I get it, and I do that a lot too. But it's important to give your eyes a break and let them breathe. When you get home, do yourself and your eyeballs a favor and take your contacts out.
Not Getting Your Prescription Checked
You might not think your prescription has changed, but even the slightest change is important to know. Straining your eyes by using the wrong prescription can make your eyes worse. Don't skip your annual eye exam! It's not even just about your prescription. Seeing your eye doctor is important so you can make sure your eyes are healthy overall. There's more to your eyes than, well, meets the eye.
Do you wear contact lenses? Have you ever left them in for too long? Tell us in the comments!