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Showering with your contact lenses could lead to permanent vision loss

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Contact lenses and your eyes

Your alarm goes off, you get up, walk to your bathroom, put in your contact lenses and jump in the shower - it's time to start your day, but you could be getting an eye infection and not even know it.

We only have one pair of eyes, so it’s important that we take care of them. Proper hygiene is the most important step; from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep.

"A corneal ulcer is the biggest concern, that's when the infection has actually started to eat its way into the cornea; that would be the worst case scenario," says Dr. Nathan Bolen with Advanced Eye Care in Hastings.

An infection that can be caused by water.

"Whether it's lake water or chlorinated pool water or even tap water, the biggest risk is infection," says. Dr. Bolen. “We would like you to try and avoid exposure to any kind of water at all. Water is never good for contact lenses, so even if that’s tap water or in the shower, if you do accidentally come into contact with water, we’d like you to take your contact lenses out, clean them off really well, disinfect them or even throw them away if they are disposable.”

It's an infection known as microbial keratitis which can lead to permanent vision loss.

"If it's bad enough, the real concern is if that bacteria or that micro–organism ate all the way through the cornea where the cornea was perforated then the infection can enter the eyeball, then it's a very serious infection at that point," explains Dr. Bolen. “Even if we can get the infection under control in time, there’s also a concern about leaving a scar, and if you have a scar on the cornea that can lead to permanent vision loss.”

He says that washing your hands can prevent some of these germs that can cause some problems when it comes to your eyes, so proper handwashing is important.

"After you take your contacts out you want to make sure that you are cleaning them really well with either a multipurpose solution or a hydrogen peroxide type solution," says Dr. Bolen.

He recommends changing your contact case every three months and never reusing old solution. He also recommends following the instructions on the bottle of solution or from your doctor, “That’s going to include rubbing, rinsing the contract lenses, you want to store them in a new case with brand new, fresh solution every night.”

He says time can be against you if you do have an eye infection.

"Anytime a person ever feels any irritation or if their eye is red at all, we always encourage patients to come in as soon as possible because it is a race against time, sometimes if the infection is bad enough it can just be a matter of a day before things can really turn sour," says Dr. Bolen.

He also recommends contact lens wearers don't sleep in their contact lenses as that can also cause an infection, “The most common problems we run into would be people sleeping in their contact lenses, if they aren’t made to be slept in and then also not replacing the contact lenses frequently enough.”

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