7 mistakes you're making with your contact lenses

Proper contact lens hygiene is nothing to roll your eyes at: A new report warns that bad habits (like wearing your lenses to bed) can lead to eye infections and possibly permanent injuries.

Studies have found that nearly one in five of eye infections result in eye damage – either a decline in vision, a scarred cornea, or the need for a corneal transplant.

But it’s also found that by simply using your contacts the way you're supposed to, you can protect your peepers: About 25 per cent of the reported cases involved behaviours known to put a person at greater risk of eye infection.

Contact lenses are a safe and effective form of vision correction when worn and cared for as recommended. However, improper wear and care of contact lenses can cause eye infections that sometimes lead to serious, long-term damage.

Below, seven mistakes you might be making, and what to do instead.

You sleep in your contacts

The enzymes and antibodies that protect the surface of your eyes require oxygen to fight off germs. When your eyes are closed at night, the air supply is reduced; wear your contacts to bed and there's even less oxygen available. The bottom line: When the PJs come on, the contacts should come out.

You handle your lenses with dirty fingers

To avoid transferring oil, dirt, and bacteria to your eyes, clean your hands before you clean your contacts. Contact lenses are foreign bodies as is. Add outside germs into the mix and that can lead to infection.

You're not rubbing your contacts

Even if you use a ‘no-rub’ contact solution, it's still a good idea: Give your lenses a rub in your (well-cleaned) palm to remove germs and protein buildup. Post-rub, let your lenses soak overnight to remove any excess debris your fingers might have missed.

You don't change your solution daily

Not changing your solution daily is like doing your laundry in dirty water. According to the CDC, you should always use fresh multipurpose saline solution (never water!), and don't mix old saline solution with new in your contact case. In fact, you should empty the case after putting in your contacts, rinse it with fresh saline, dry it with a fresh, clean tissue and store it upside down on a clean tissue (with the lids off), until you are ready to use it again.

You shower and swim with your contacts in

The CDC advises keeping your lenses away from water (including pool water) to avoid a rare but potentially blinding infection caused by an amoeba called Acanthamoeba, as well as other types of infections. Beware of tap water, too. We want to do what we can to not get germs in the eye, and tap water may have that. Bacteria and parasites in water can get caught under your lenses, especially in breeding grounds like hot tubs and pools. If you're a swimmer, you may want to invest in prescription goggles.

You leave your lenses in too long

When you're at home and on weekends, give your eyes a break and wear your glasses. Doctors recommend that lens wearers should keep their contacts in for no more than 12-14 hours a day.

You keep your lenses past their expiration date

Following the instructions on your pack of lenses is the easiest way to keep your eyes safe. People think they're doing fine with their lenses and then they don't throw them away. That's how they can get into trouble with hypersensitivity and conjunctivitis. Daily contact lenses are the way to go since they cut down on germ buildup from being disposed of at the end of each day.