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Contact lens safety - Healthy body

Close-up of a contact lens being put into an eye
Credit:

allOver images / Alamy Stock Photo

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Cleaning and using your contact lenses properly will help keep your eyes healthy and free from infections.

Do

  • wash, rinse and dry your hands thoroughly before touching your lenses

  • only wear your contact lenses for the recommended time

  • always have an up-to-date pair of glasses for when you take your lenses out

  • have regular contact lens check-ups, even if everything seems OK

  • get advice straight away if you're having any problems with your contact lenses, such as sore, red or swollen eyes – remove your lenses until you are told it is safe to start using them again

Don't

  • do not wear any contact lenses, including novelty lenses, that have not been properly fitted to your eyes

  • do not put water or saliva on your lenses or in your eye when you're wearing them

  • do not pick up a dropped lens and put it straight back into your eye without cleaning it thoroughly

  • do not carry on wearing your lenses if they look damaged, they do not feel comfortable when wearing them, or your vision is blurry

  • do not sleep in your lenses unless your contact lens practitioner says it's OK to do this

  • do not wear your lenses while swimming or playing water sports

  • do not wear your lenses in the shower or hot tub

  • do not wear someone else's contact lenses or share your lenses with anyone

  • do not reuse a daily disposable lens

  • do not use eyedrops while wearing your lenses unless your contact lens practitioner or eye specialist (ophthalmologist) says it's safe to do this

Soft, daily disposable contact lenses

Daily disposable lenses do not need cleaning or disinfecting because they're only worn once then thrown away.

To keep your eyes healthy if you wear disposable lenses:

  • make sure you put them in the right way round
  • check them for faults or damage before putting them in
  • never reuse them

Reusable contact lenses

There are 2 types of reusable lenses: soft and hard.

  • soft reusable lenses – these can be reused daily for a set period of time, usually 1 week or 1 month
  • hard reusable lenses – also known as rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, these can be reused every day for up to a year

Soft and hard reusable lenses have to be disinfected with contact lens solution every day to prevent infections. Your contact lens prescriber will tell you how to do this.

To look after your reusable lenses safely:

  • clean your lenses after you take them out by rubbing them with your contact lens solution
  • rinse your lenses with contact lens solution after cleaning them
  • leave them in the disinfecting solution overnight
  • never reuse disinfecting solution or top it up – throw it away and use fresh solution every time
  • only use the solution recommended by your contact lens practitioner, and follow the instructions carefully
  • follow your practitioner's instructions for cleaning your storage case (do not use tap water)
  • replace your lens case at least once a month
  • never decant your solution into smaller travel-size bottles

When to get medical help

If you think there's a problem with your lenses take your lenses out and go to your prescriber.

Get advice straight away by calling 111 if you have:

  • blurred vision
  • painful, red or swollen eyes
  • a white or yellow spot over the coloured part of your eye

Page last reviewed: 28 May 2020
Next review due: 28 May 2023