I should start by saying that I am not an ophthalmologist or an expert in this field whatsoever, but I have been wearing contact lenses for more than a decade, and these are some of the tips I've gotten from ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, etc. over the years. I've even learned from some of these mistakes myself, so I thought I'd compile a list here for anyone who wants to learn the don't's of wearing contacts lenses.
1. Sleeping with contacts in
When you're awake, your eyes get oxygen from the air. When you're asleep, they get lubrication from tears. These are necessary for a healthy cornea. When you sleep with your contacts in, they prevent your eyes from getting the necessary lubrication because your contacts act like a barrier. Do this too often, and there's a significantly higher risk of corneal infection!
2. Showering with contacts in
Your contacts shouldn't be exposed to tap water (or any water that isn't your contacts solution) because bacteria could bind to them and increase your chances of infection.
3. Putting in contacts after putting on makeup
If you're like me and are pretty much blind without your contacts in, this isn't an issue, but you should avoid putting on your makeup before your contacts because as you're putting in your contacts, they could catch fallout from your makeup and, again, cause infections.
4. Removing contacts after removing makeup
On the flipside, you should remove your contacts before you remove your makeup. This is also to prevent makeup fallout getting on your contacts and to avoid irritation, especially when you're removing your eye makeup.
5. Using waterproof makeup
Due to the incredible staying power of waterproof makeup, it is difficult to remove from your contacts if you were to accidentally get some waterproof mascara on them. This has actually happened to me in the past, so trust me when I say that it's a real pain to have to maneuver a wet Q-tip around your eye in an attempt to get the smudge off. With non-waterproof mascara, a few blinks get the smudges off just fine.
6. Cleaning contacts with water
This goes along the same lines as showering with your contacts in. You want to avoid any and all contact, as much as possible, between your contacts and water, so using water to clean (or store, like I once naively did) your contacts is defeating the purpose.
7. Cleaning contacts case with water
Again, water and your contacts should stay far, far away from each other. If you really need to clean your case with water (which I still do because it feels dirty to me otherwise), let it dry completely before putting your contacts in it.
8. Closing contacts case before letting it dry
Another bad side effect of having water (even droplets) in contact with your case is the possibility of bacteria growth. If you don't let your case completely dry before you close it, the dark, damp area on the inside of your case is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, and we don't want those all up in our contacts later.
9. Using the same contacts case for a long time
Even if you do religiously keep your case away from water, keep in mind that there is still water particles in the air. Also, over time, the protective anti-bacterial layer on the inside of your case wears off. Ideally, you'd want to switch out your case every three months at least.
10. Wearing the same contacts for too long
It is very important to stick to the "expiration date" of your contacts, and I don't mean its shelf life. If you wear monthly contacts, throw them out after a month. If you wear daily contacts, throw them out at the end of the day. If you wear your contacts for longer than you're supposed to, they will deteriorate (dry out, harden up, etc.) and cause damage to your eyes.
11. Reusing your contacts solution
I was so super guilty of this in the past because I was cheap and didn't know how much harm it can do to my contacts and my eyes. The purpose of your solution is to remove the dirt and grime (and maybe bacteria) from your contacts at the end of the day, so when you soak your contacts in the solution, even if you rubbed it prior, all of the dirt and grime and bacteria settles into the solution in your case. Reusing that solution is basically soaking your contacts in the stuff you want to wash off in the first place.
12. Using generic brand contacts solution
This is a new one that I recently learned. I don't have anything against generic and store brands because they're basically the same thing in other brands. What I didn't know was that although generic brand solution and big brand solution have the same solution, big brands have quality checks that their products have to pass as per federal regulations, and they usually tell you what's in their bottles, but with generic brands, you don't really know what, if any, their quality checks are. For all we know, it could be solution that failed the quality checks for the other brands.
13. Constantly changing contacts solution brand
On the other hand, it isn't a good idea to change up your solution brand too often. Although all solutions are fundamentally the same, different brands have slightly different chemical levels in their solutions, and your eyes naturally adapt to these levels. If you constantly change brands, your eyes keep having to work at adapting to your solution, which can cause irritation.
14. Keeping your contacts in the bathroom
I also learned about this very recently, and once I did, I felt like it should've been common sense to me. Your bathroom is filled with bacteria (obviously because of what goes on in there), so leaving your contacts stuff in the bathroom is giving bacteria the chance to settle on your case and your solution bottle, etc. Also, I don't know about you, but my bathroom sink is always wet, and I mean wet, when I'm done brushing my teeth and washing my face, so if I kept my contacts stuff on the sink, it will all get super wet.
15. Storing contacts in saline solution
There are so many different types of solution on the market, and before this, I always just assumed that multipurpose solution is just all those different types mixed together, so that's all I really need. Apparently, I was wrong. Although multipurpose solution is pretty much saline solution and disinfecting solution mixed into one, it's not as effective as using them separately. Saline solution should be used to clean the lenses prior to storing. Gently rubbing it in saline solution removes the layer of dirt and grime and bacteria that's accumulated on it over the course of the day. Then, storing the lenses in disinfecting solution further disinfects it overnight before you put them back in in the morning. Basically, I think of multipurpose solutions like multipurpose mascara. They claim to volumize and lengthen, which they kind of do, but nothing beats layering volumizing mascara and lengthening mascara.
I hope this has been helpful for you, whether you're new to wearing contacts or you've worn them for a while.
What are some of your contact lens tips?