Avoiding contact lens related eye infections requires just a few easy steps. Check out this list from Dr. Angela Ellerman, OD, of the University Health Center’s Vision Clinic.

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1. Follow replacement schedules for your brand of contacts.

Keeping your contacts fresh helps prevent stress on the eye tissues. Older lenses reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the eye’s surface, which can allow bacteria easier access. UHC Vision Clinic offers online contact ordering to make replacing your lenses a breeze.

2. Use the appropriate solutions for your lenses.

Not all cleaning solutions or systems are the same! Using an incorrect solution will allow excessive bacterial growth, creating risk of infection. Ask your eye doctor which solution is the correct choice for your lenses.

3. Clean contacts daily.

Rub contacts gently with solution, and discard used solution once you have reinserted your lenses.

4. Clean and replace your contact lens case regularly.

Don’t let a dirty case derail your contact lens comfort! The part of your contact lens care system that gets the least attention is probably your contact lens case.

A lot of my patients don’t even remember the last time they got a new case. But in many episodes of contact lens related eye infection, the case is the cause!

Multipurpose contact solutions do a good job for a limited amount of time. Most of them “win the battle” for about a month before they fail to keep the bacterial population from overtaking lenses. This is why the maximum recommended time of wear for any lens brand is about one month.

Bacterial growth is also why cases should be discarded and replaced every 3-6 months. A biofilm of bacteria can form on the surface of the lens cases. This colony of bacteria is then protected from disinfectants in contact lens solutions and can easily contaminate lenses, leading to infection. In the study image below, you can see the significant biofilm of bacteria (which absorbs testing stain and looks purple) after 6-9 months of use.

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Photo/Study Credit: Burnham, GW, Cavanaugh, HD, and Robertson, DM. Eye Contact Lens 2012, volume 38, pages 7-15.

Many  contact lens solution bottles now come with a new case, making it easy to replace the case with each new bottle. In addition, the CDC recommends daily cleaning of the case following use. The safest way to do this is to discard used solution, apply a small amount of new solution to each well, rub the bowl vigorously with clean fingers, and rinse with new solution. After these cleaning steps, the wells should be wiped with a clean tissue and placed face-down to air dry. Water should never be used to clean cases as it contains Acanthamoeba and other microbes that can be visually devastating if introduced to the eyes.

Have questions about caring for your eyes or lenses? Check out the UHC Vision Clinic on campus at UGA. The staff of UHC Vision Clinic is committed to providing highly accessible, professional eye care for University of Georgia students and other eligible members of the university community. We provide premium comprehensive and personalized eye care services in a respectful environment using state-of-the art equipment, materials and products balanced with highly trained eye care professionals.

Our hours are Monday – Friday, 8am-5pm, and we can be reached by phone at 706.542.5617.

Written by: Dr. Angela Ellerman, UHC Vision Clinic
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