The Do’s and Don’ts of Proper Lens Care

If you’ve ever slept in your contact lenses, worn disposable lenses past the prescribed replacement schedule, rinsed your contact lenses with tap water or gone for a dip in the community pool without removing contacts from your eyes first, it’s time to rethink your habits.

lensMost problems associated with contact lenses cause minor irritation, but serious eye infections from poor lens hygiene can be extremely painful and may lead to permanent vision loss. About 80 to 90 percent of contact lens-related eye infections are bacterial. A type of infection you can get is called pseudomonas aeruginosa, a fast-growing bacterial infection that can lead to a hole in your cornea. Unfortunately, patients who get this infection have a high chance of permanent scarring and vision loss. Beyond bacteria, fungal infections are also potential threats to your vision.


  • Always wash and thoroughly dry your hands before handling contact lenses.
  • Carefully and regularly clean contact lenses as directed by your eye care specialist. If recommended, rub the contact lenses with your fingers and rinse them thoroughly before soaking the lenses overnight in multipurpose solution that completely covers each lens.
  • Store lenses in the proper lens storage case, and replace the case at least every three months. Clean the case after each use, and keep it open and dry between cleanings.
  • Use only fresh solution to clean and store contact lenses. Never reuse old solution—it loses its effectiveness. Change your contact lens solution according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, even if you don’t use your lenses daily.
  • Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your eye care specialist.
  • Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.Avoid tap water to wash or store contact lenses or lens cases.
  • See your eye care professional for your regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.


  • Use cream soaps. They can leave a film on your hands that can transfer to the lenses.
  • Use saliva to rinse or lubricate your contact lenses
  • Use homemade saline solutions. Improper use of homemade saline solutions has been linked with a potentially blinding condition among soft lens wearers.
  • Put contact lenses in your mouth or moisten them with saliva, which is full of bacteria and a potential source of infection.
  • Use tap water to wash or store contact lenses or lens cases.
  • Use products not recommended by your eye care specialist to clean and disinfect your lenses.
  • Use saline solution and rewetting drops not designed for contact lenses.
  • Sleep in contact lenses. The contact lens and your eyelid act as a double barrier, potentially trapping bacteria on the lens directly on your eyes.

The Costs of Eye Care


**Update 6/16/14 – New estimate on the cost of vision problems just came out in the new Prevent Blindness America report showing they could reach $717 billion by 2050.

This past week I attended a dinner where a topic of discussion was the cost of chronic disease on healthcare – 75% of healthcare dollars go to the treatment of chronic diseases. This led me to explore the costs chronic eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
PBA 2012 booklet
In 2007 Prevent Blindness America (PBA) published a report, The Economic Impact of Vision Problems that was updated in 2012, which explored the economic burden related to people 40 and older and the conditions of, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, diabetic retinopathy, primary open-angle glaucoma and refractive error, as well as the economic impact of vision problems and blindness.

They looked at direct medical costs including inpatient, outpatient and prescription costs; direct non-medical costs, which include nursing home care, guide dogs, and government programs for the blind and visually impaired; and loss of productivity, which includes lower labor force participation and lower wages for those with vision problems as opposed to the same age group with normal vision.

Direct Medical Costs $16.2 billion
Direct Non-medical Costs $11.2 billion
Productivity Losses $8.0 billion

Looking more closely at the direct medical cost with regards to age-related eye diseases, the costs per patient broke down as follows:

AMD Cataract Diabetic Retinopathy Glaucoma
Medical Costs $797 $12,625 $6,012 $3,552

A year later, the NORC at the University of Chicago presented their findings, but also included the age groups of children 0-17 and adults 18-39 in a publication titled, Cost of Vision Problems: The Economic Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders in the United States. It was interesting to see how the estimates varied in the two approaches when I only focused on the group of age 40 and older, as they did in the PBA study.
Noca booklet
The reclassification of the costs into two line items, from the previous three of the PBA report, presented a challenge and is one reason for discrepancies.  They went into more depth and were broken down as follows: direct costs included medical care, medical vision aids, low vision aids, special education, school screenings and Federal assistance programs; and indirect costs included loss of productivity for adults and caregivers, long-term care and transfer payments.

Direct Costs $52.58 billion
Indirect Costs $58.49 billion

And when I looked more closely at the medical cost with regards to age-related eye diseases, the costs per patient broke down as follows:

AMD Cataract Diabetic Retinopathy Glaucoma
Medical Costs $4,457 $10,570 $4,005 $5,617

Regardless of the data sources and reporting classifications, one thing is clear – the direct medical costs of eye disease is high and growing each year.

Both reports contained a wide variety of information that is very interesting.  Links for both studies have been included so you can review the numbers and draw your own conclusions.

Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation