Copyright 1995 Larry Bickford. All Rights Reserved.


The EyeCare Connection

abstracts and answers to commonly asked questions



Contact Lens Wearers Frequently Asked Questions

Can I store contact lenses in tap water?

No. Soft lenses must be stored in a disinfecting solution. Temporary storage in saline is allowed, but the lenses will have to be disinfected prior to the next use. RGP lenses can be stored in tap water in an emergency, but will need to be cleaned and con ditioned by soaking in an appropriate disinfecting solution prior to use.

Can I lose a lens behind my eye?

No. There is no where for it to go. The conjunctiva, the fine, thin membrane that covers the sclera (white part) and inside of your eyelids is well attached to the side walls of the eye socket. Although you can not lose a lens it can find its way up and u nder the upper lid and be pretty hard to locate. A soft lens can roll up and likewise be hard to find. Either way, if you flush your eye with water or saline, the lens should float out. In rare instances, a RGP lens may adhere by suction to the conjuncti va. First apply wetting solution to the lens and wait about a minute. Then try to move the lens while gently pressing on one edge. If that doesn't work, you can try to very gently lift up under one edge to break the seal. Or go see your eye doctor. If a contact lens adheres repeatedly, it is not fitted correctly and should be replaced.

How can I tell if I have the lens in the wrong eye?

Alternately cover each eye with your hand. Do not simply squeeze your lids closed. Compare the vision. If one eye is noticeably better or worse, switch them and try again.

How can I tell if a soft lens is inside out?

Here are three methods. Not all work for al lenses. (1) Place the lens on the tip of your finger facing upward, like a bowl. If when viewed from the side the edges of the bowl flare outward, it's inside out. (2) Add saline, drop by drop to fill the bo wl. If the edges begin to curl inwards, it's the correct way. (3) Place the lens on the crease in your hand just below your pinkie. This is sometimes called the "life line or heart line). Make sure the lens is centered over the crease. As you curl your fingers inward to close your hand, the edges of the lens should roll inwards to form a "soft taco". This is the correct position.

My lens has a very small chip or tear in the edge but it doesn't bother me. Should I replace it anyway?

Absolutely. Never, never wear a lens that is obviously damaged, even if it feels all right. It could be causing damage to your eyes that might not be immediately apparent. And never wear a lens which is uncomfortable, causes pain or leaves your vision haz y or distorted.

How do I know when to dispose of disposable lenses? They seem to be OK longer than I expected.

As a basic rule, never sleep in lenses more than one week, or less, as prescribed by your doctor. Dispose of them as recommended. Daily wear users should replace their lenses as recommended by their eye care practitioner. Wearing your lenses past the reco mmended replacement interval may result in serious complications affecting your eye health and vision. Disposable lenses are meant to be discarded at regular intervals.

My eyes get dry. What kind of eye drops can I use?

You should use products specifically designed for use with type of lens you are wearing. Saline solution can be used with any contact lens. The re-wetting drops for RGP lenses are far more effective than saline and special soft lens lubricating drops also work well. Drink more water to help with increasing your natural tear production. Unless directed to do so by your eye doctor, do not use medicated eye drops, including "get the red out" brands with contact lenses. Soft lenses may concentrate the drug and alter the effect. The lens itself may be damaged.

I used to make my own saline. Is there a problem with that?

Yes. Home prepared saline is not sterile and there is the risk of bacterial or parasitic contamination. Although extremely rare, the resulting infection can be so damaging that it simply is not worth the risk.

There are so many solutions out there, how do I know which is best?

Rule one: do not "mix and match" contact lens products. The chemicals used within any one care system are designed to be compatible. Using alternative products could create chemical reactions which could damage or discolor the lenses, irr itate your eyes, or reduce the desired effect of the product. Unless you're a chemist, don't do it.

Rule two: When it comes to saline, you have a choice between unpreserved and preserved products. Unpreserved is preferable, and if your system requires unpreserved, that's what you use. Within each of those categories (preserved or unpreserve d), choose the least expensive. Saline is saline: salt in sterile, distilled water with a few buffers added.

Note: Be careful to keep your lens care products clean. Do not touch the tip of the bottles to any surface. If you do, quickly discard the next few drops. Always close the container with the original top immediately after use.