Contact lens wearers should be fully aware of the importance of proper eye hygiene. Research conducted by Bausch & Lomb this past summer determined that a large number of individuals regularly use potentially harmful substances instead of contact solution to soak their lenses. Everything from baby oil, to coke to butter was reportedly used as a substitute to proper contact solution by 20% of the 2,000 adults surveyed in the United Kingdom.
Even more of those surveyed reported that they have used saliva when inserting their contacts. Since we know that the mouth of the average adult contains 500 to 650 varieties of bacteria, this can pose a serious health risk to your eyes. To worsen the situation, many people presume that tap water, bottled water or distilled water are a safe alternative for contact lens solution, although even those can contain parasites that can cause damage to the eye and have been linked to Acanthamoeba keratitis, a sight-threatening infection. If water gets on the contact lenses when swimming or bathing while wearing your contacts, the lenses can become contaminated. Cleaning and disinfecting them may not be effective on certain parasites that can be found in water.
Disinfecting your contact lenses after wearing them is critical and only approved lens disinfectants should be used. It's dangerous to keep your contacts in water! Leaving your contacts in water isn't effective in disinfecting them and harmful fungi can gather on your lenses in minutes and eventually enter your eyes. In addition, lens solution is made to match the acidity of the tear film in your eyes and conversely water can cause a reaction which makes your contacts change shape or stick causing discomfort and blurred vision.
If you know that you do not have the means to properly disinfect your contact lenses, try to use single-use daily disposable contact lenses rather than resusable lenses. You should always take age, lifestyle and level of maturity into consideration when determining which contact lens options are most suitable for you.
Only individuals that can understand the proper way to care for contact lenses and how important this is should use contact lenses, especially reusable brands. Failure to do so can cause permanent harm or even blindness.