Overuse of your contacts is an extremely dangerous practice that many people are not aware may be harmful. Part of responsible contact lens wear is informing yourself about the best ways to avoid this potentially harmful practice. Contact lens overuse carries a very serious risk of damaging your eyes, and causing long-term problems with visual and eye health. Drs. Kelso & Kelso
of Jupiter Eye Care in Jupiter, FL.
comments, “Contacts are serious medical devices that can help a great deal with sharp, accurate and comfortable vision. However, just like any other medical device, they come with a very specific set of safety guidelines. If you are not careful about using them according to these guidelines, a great deal of harm can potentially result.”
Many methods exist for reducing your chances of contact lens overuse. Below are just a few of these suggestions by our Jupiter optometrist:
A spare pair of glasses are an absolute necessity. Constant contact wear can strain your eyes and cause fatigue
and headaches, and may also deny your eyes the essential oxygen and moisture they need to stay comfortable and working at their full potential. Wearing your glasses a few days a week instead of your contacts will allow your eyes to rest from this strain and recover from any lack of oxygen or moisture.
Choosing your contacts over your glasses should never be an all-day decision. You should always leave time at the beginning and end of each day without your contacts in. You can accomplish this by delaying putting in your contacts until you have already done everything else to get ready for your day. Only as your last step should you insert your contacts. You should also take your contacts out a few hours before going to bed to let your eyes recover at the end of the day.
In order to be sure that you have your contacts out for enough time overall to allow your eyes to rest, you should roughly time how many hours per week you have them out. Dr. Kelso advises that you should have your contact lenses out no less than 18 hours per week. This is because your eyes contain the only parts of your body that are not supplied oxygen by blood vessels, so that the eye can remain clear to receive light unhindered. The downside of this is that your eye must take in oxygen from the air in order to survive and function, and overuse of contacts denies your eyes the ability to “breath” properly and may potentially do a great deal of damage.
Replacing your contact lenses as prescribed by your doctor is absolutely essential. It is a dangerously common misconception that you can wear your contacts until they begin feeling uncomfortable, regardless of their generally prescribed wearing life. Many people don't realize that by the time your contact lenses feel uncomfortable, serious damage may have already been done. Daily wear means you are meant to wear them for only 1 day, monthly for only 1 month. Attempting to exceed these recommendations can be extremely harmful.
Sleeping, for any amount of time, with your contacts in is a cause of contact overuse that is too often overlooked. Whether overnight, or just for a short nap, wearing your contacts while sleeping can deny the eyes essential oxygen and hydration, leading to a process called neovascularization. In this process your oxygen starved eye begins to create new blood vessels in places they don't belong in order to make up for the shortage of oxygen. This can seriously harm your ability to see and may lead to more even greater damage to your eyes in the future.