Swapping out glasses for contact lenses can be intimidating. Are contact lenses safe? Can contact lenses damage your eyes? Can contact lenses reduce eye power? It’s completely normal to have a few concerns before making the leap to daily disposable contact lenses. After all, wearing contacts shouldn’t be taken lightly. Like glasses, they are a medical device and are regulated by the government.
It’s important to be aware of the responsibility, consider how much of a commitment you’re ready to make by wearing contacts and understand how they’ll fit into your lifestyle. To prepare yourself for the transition, here we address any fears you may have about the safety of contact lenses, whether you’re using daily disposables for the first time or or trying dailies over extended-wear lenses.
Are contact lenses safe?
Yes, contact lenses are safe to wear. In fact, if you’re wondering how contact lenses damage the eye, the biggest problem is not the devices themselves, but the people who wear them! Research shows that infections occur because wearers don’t follow their eye health provider's advice. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US found that nearly a million visits to the doctor each year relate to eye infections from lenses, and that poor contact lens hygiene is a major risk factor for a spectrum of eye complications.
Can contact lenses damage your eyes?
No, the contact lenses themselves won’t damage your eyes, but not using them with proper care can. Basic hygiene is a must, yet a third of people don’t wash their hands before putting in or taking out their lenses, which can increase the risk of infection.
The most serious eye infection is Acanthamoeba keratitis, caused by bacteria and other organisms that result in inflammation of the cornea (the eye’s clear protective outer layer). A 2022 study published in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, identifies multiple factors that increase the risk of infection. They include reusing lenses, or wearing them overnight or in the shower.
UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Professor John Dart and lead author of the study said: ‘Contact lenses are generally very safe but are associated with a small risk of microbial keratitis, most commonly caused by bacteria, and which is the only sight-threatening complication of their use. Given that an estimated 300 million people across the globe wear contact lenses, it is important that people know how to minimise their risks for developing keratitis.’
Here’s how to treat your contacts with respect.
Don’t let your contacts get wet
Lenses should never come into contact with water of any type. This is because water can be contaminated by Acanthamoeba organisms that stick to contact lenses and cause ulcers in the cornea. Acanthamoeba is very rare, but can be found in tap water, hot tubs, pools, lakes and sea water.
Always wash and thoroughly dry your hands before inserting and removing your contact lenses and take them out while swimming and showering. If your daily disposable contact lenses do come into contact with water, dispose of them responsibly and wear a fresh pair.
Don’t wear your contacts overnight
Sleeping with your lenses in severely raises the risk of corneal infection. This is because your cornea is starved of oxygen when lenses are in and eyelids closed, making it less effective as a barrier for keeping out germs. Learn more about healthy sleeping habits for healthy eyes.
Practice good contact lens hygiene
Along with keeping your hands clean when touching your eyes, apply make-up after your lenses are in. Never use saliva to moisten your lenses to insert them (think of the bacteria in your mouth!). And don’t reuse your daily disposable lenses – they’re designed for one-time use only.
Don’t use out-of-date lenses
Remember that contact lenses are medical devices. Soft daily disposable contacts are packaged in small sterilised blister packs filled with fluid. Over time, this fluid can become contaminated, which is why all daysoft® lenses have an expiration date.
Are contact lenses bad for your eyes?
You may have heard rumours that contact lenses can reduce eye power. Let’s bust this common myth here and now. Contact lenses don’t make your eyes worse. However, if your eyes have not been fitted for the correct lens, for example, it may be that you’re straining to see correctly. Eventually, this may lead to eyestrain and potential headaches. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your eyecare provider to check your prescription.
What’s the safest contact lens option?
Daily disposable lenses are the safest contact lens option. The Ophthalmology study shows that people who wear reusable contact lenses are nearly four times as likely as those wearing daily disposables to develop a rare sight-threatening eye infection. What’s more, the researchers estimated that 30%-62% of cases in the UK, and potentially in many other countries, could be prevented if people switched from reusable to daily disposable lenses.
For new wearers and young, active teenagers, daily disposable lenses are the way to go. You don't have to worry about fastidiously cleaning your lenses or putting them in a case that’s not as clean as it should be. You can throw away your lenses at night and have a pristine new pair ready to wear the next day.
Always follow your eye health professional’s advice on which contact lenses are best for you. They’ll take a case history, do a general exam and consider your lifestyle. Based upon the clinical examination, the practitioner can pick out the optimum material and decide which type of lens fits best with your lifestyle.
Ready to give daily disposable lenses a whirl? daysoft® lenses are not only safe and easy to wear, but also sustainable and hassle free to order and purchase.