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     Volume 5 Issue 97 | June 2, 2006 |

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Caring for Your Contact Lenses

Follow these guidelines for good contact lens care to extend the life of your contact lenses, and protect the safety and health of your eyes.

1. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before handling your contact lenses or before touching your eyes. Any residue from lotions, soaps, or chemicals may stick to the contact lens, causing pain, irritation, or blurred vision when they are in your eyes. Dry your hands with a clean towel.

2. Wear your contact lenses as prescribed. Your eye doctor will recommend a wearing schedule specific to the type of contact lens you have selected. Only wear your contact lenses for the time recommended.

3. Clean and store your contact lenses as prescribed (in a clean case in fresh solution). Different types of contact lenses require special care and certain types of products. Always use the eye care products recommended by your eye doctor. Some eye products or eye drops are not safe for contact lens wearers.

4. Clean your contact lens case after each use with either sterile solution or hot tap water and let air dry.

5. Never use plain water directly on your contact lenses, and never put your contact lenses in your mouth to "rinse" them. Micro organisms can live in even distilled water, causing infection or sight damage.

6. Clean your contact lens by rubbing it gently with your index finger in the palm of your hand. The newest "No Rub" solutions allow you to rinse your contact lenses without rubbing.

7. If you develop an eye infection (signs include redness, burning, or excessive tearing), remove your contact lenses and discontinue use until you talk with your eye doctor. Wearing a contaminated pair of contact lenses will invite the infection to remain. After resuming contact lens use, closely follow your doctor's instructions to help prevent future eye infections.

8. Never wear another person's contact lenses, especially if they have been worn before. Using other people's contact lenses can spread any infection or particles from their eyes to yours.

9. Wearing contact lenses may cause your eyes to become more sensitive to sunlight. Wear sunglasses with total UV protection and/or a wide brim hat when in the sun.

10. To keep your eyes lubricated, use a rewetting solution or plain saline solution.

11. Do not sleep with your contact lenses in your eyes unless you are prescribed "Extended Wear" contacts! While the eyes are shut, tears cannot carry healthy amounts of oxygen to the eye, like during the waking hours. As a result, your contact lenses will become dry and stick to your eyes. If you accidentally do fall asleep with your contact lenses in, be sure to put eye drops in your eyes and wait a few minutes before trying to remove your contact lenses.

12. See your doctor annually to check your contact lens prescription.

13. Visit your eye doctor immediately if you have any degree of sudden vision loss, blurred vision, light flashes, eye pain, infection, swelling, unusual redness, or irritation.

14. When first wearing contact lenses you may be concerned about accidentally wearing them inside out. If this happens, they cannot damage your eyes, but they will be uncomfortable. To avoid this, place your contact lens on the tip of your finger so that it is forming a cup. Look at the contact lens from the side. If the cup looks like it is flaring out at the top and has a lip, your contact lens is inside out. If it looks like the letter "U", the contact lens is right side out.

15. If you think you will have trouble remembering when to change your contact lenses, ask your eye doctor if he or she has a chart that is handed out to patients. If your doctor does not have one, you may want to consider creating one on your own.

16. Put in your contact lenses before applying makeup to avoid contaminating your contact lens. When removing your makeup be sure that you wash and dry your hands. Once you have done this, remove your contact lenses and then remove your makeup.

17. Don't let the tip of solution bottles touch other surfaces, including your fingers, eyes or contact lenses. The solution can become contaminated.

Rare Cases of Eye Fungus With Contacts
A rare infection from a fungus that can threaten eyesight has been reported in several U.S. wearers of soft contact lenses.

The fungus causes a fungal keratitis, an infection of the cornea. The fungus, fusarium, is commonly present in the environment in plant matter. The CDC has reports of about 50 possible cases in 12 states so far this year, but it's not clear if that's more than usual, according to the Associated Press. Cases have also been reported in Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, the Associated Press notes.

The risk of an eye infection from the fungus is "extremely small," states the web site of the American Optometric Association (AOA). The main cause of keratitis infections in contact lens wearers is bacteria.

The AOA lists these symptoms for keratitis:
* Red and irritated eyes lasting for an unusually long period of time after lens removal.
* Pain in and around the eyes, especially if that pain progressively worsens.
* Increased sensitivity to light.
* Rapid onset of blurred or fuzzy vision.
* Excessive tearing or discharge.
People with those symptoms should remove their lenses immediately and seek care as soon as possible.

Source: webmd.com


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