Contact Lenses: The Risks You Need to Know

The View From the FDA

Lauri R. Graham; Bernard P. Lepri, OD, MS, MEd


October 24, 2012

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

In This Article

Contact Lens Tips for Clinicians

Medscape: What are the important contact lens care tips that clinicians should reinforce to their patients who wear them?

Dr. Lepri: Before cleaning or inserting the contact lenses, hands should be thoroughly washed and carefully dried with a clean, lint-free cloth.

The next step is to rub and rinse the contact lenses as directed by your eye care professional. Do not top off the solutions in the case. Always discard all of the leftover contact lens solution. Never reuse any solutions. Clean, rinse, and air-dry the case each time the lenses are removed. Do not substitute sterile saline solution for multipurpose solution. All contact lens products are not the same. Use the lens care product recommended by your eye care professional, and follow the directions on the bottle.

Do not expose lenses to any type of water. If they do become exposed to water, such as in a swimming pool, a lake, or the ocean, they should be thrown out immediately and replaced with new lenses. Do not leave them in your eyes, even for a day. If you are going swimming, take an extra pair of lenses with you.

Avoid wearing the lenses for too long or falling asleep while wearing them if they are daily-wear lenses. Never wear someone else's lenses.

Do not ignore eye itching, burning, irritation, or redness that could signal a potentially dangerous infection. Remove the lenses, and contact your eye care professional.

Cosmetics should be applied after inserting the lenses. The lenses should be removed before makeup removal.

Do not purchase decorative contact lenses from any nonmedical source, such as street vendors, beauty supply stores, flea markets, novelty stores, or the Internet.

Contact lens wearers should undergo an eye examination every year unless their practitioner recommends a different examination schedule for them. An examination is important to see whether any abnormal changes have occurred in the cornea. The lens material might need to be changed, or the fit may need to be adjusted to improve the comfort level and, subsequently, the vision. Allergies associated with the contact lenses or the contact lens care products can develop at any time.

There is a high noncompliance rate among contact lens wearers, and the best way to get around the problems that come from noncompliance with care and hygiene is continual reinforcement by their eye care practitioners. Certainly, if we can get that to start moving into the primary care arena too, it would be most beneficial.