Potential problems with caring for lenses and simple, healthy habits you can adopt.

Contact lenses provide a safe, effective and convenient form of quality vision. Over 30 million Americans are glasses-free, using contact lenses as their main source of vision correction. Many of the materials used today are highly oxygen permeable to enhance lens comfort and corneal health. Additionally, there are more customizable options to increase vision performance compared to those used 10 to 15 years ago.

Although the contact lenses we fit today are highly affordable and effective, there are still risks for injury and problems if lenses and eyes are not maintained properly. Some of the complications include:

  • Red eyes
  • Foreign body sensation — discomfort in or around the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision
  • Increase in watery eyes or discharge

Most often, the simplest form of treatment for contact lens-related complications is temporarily discontinuing the use of the lens. If irritation still persist after a day or two, it’s recommended to see your eye care professional. An eye drop might be needed to help aid with healing.

Here are other simple ways to avoid complications and care for your eyes and contact lenses:

Daily eyelid massage and clean your eyelashes and eyelids.
The majority of eyelids I see have crusting around lashes and clogged glands. Simply rubbing your eyelids gently with warm water on fingers will help to open clogged oil glands and clean lashes. This will enhance your tears and comfort with wearing contact lenses.

Rub your contact lens when removed every night — just 10 to 20 seconds, then store. During that storage time, increased disinfecting occurs and deposit resistance coating is formed. This will help to decrease allergic reactions associated with contact lens use and make the lens less dry.

Do not clean your case with water.
Clean case with multipurpose solution or better yet, replace your case frequently. Try to replace it every time you open a new bottle of solution or at least once every three months.

Never store your contact lenses in water.
Most water is not germ-free. Water has microbes, such as amoeba, that can attach to your lens and penetrate through your cornea. Replace your solution daily. Also, do not top off your solution. Never mix old with new solution. I am surprised by how many patients I see who contract contact-lens related corneal ulcers from not replacing solution daily.

Limit extended-wear of contact lenses.
Some lenses are approved for this type of wear and your eye care professional should discuss approved length of wear. It is still recommended to remove the lenses regularly to clean by rubbing lens with multipurpose solution. Doing this will help to prevent microbial infections and noninfectious conditions such as corneal ulcerations, allergic reactions and infiltrates.

And remember, if problems start to occur and hygiene habits are a nuisance, a daily replacement contact lens is almost always a fantastic fix.

Dr. Christensen is the Sam’s Club Optical North Division Doctor of Optometry of the Year for FY15.