More than 3 million people in the UK wear contact lenses, but many users don't follow the instructions.
Cleaning and using your contact lenses properly will help keep your eyes healthy and free from infections.
- wash, rinse and dry your hands thoroughly before touching your lenses
- only wear your contacts for the recommended time
- always have an up-to-date pair of glasses for when you take your lenses out
- have regular contact lens check-ups, even if everything seems OK
- get advice straight away if you're having any problems with your contact lenses, such as sore, red or swollen eyes
- wear any contact lenses, including novelty lenses, that haven't been properly fitted to your eyes
- put water or saliva on your lenses or in your eye when you're wearing them
- pick up a dropped lens and put it straight back into your eye without cleaning it thoroughly
- carry on wearing your lenses if they don't look good, feel good or your vision is blurry
- use a lens if it looks damaged
- sleep in your lenses unless your contact lens practitioner says it's OK to do this
- wear your lenses while swimming or playing water sports
- wear your lenses in the shower or hot tub
- wear someone else's contact lenses or share your lenses with anyone
- reuse a daily disposable lens
- use eyedrops while wearing your lenses unless your contact lens practitioner or ophthalmologist says it's safe to do this
Soft, daily disposable contact lenses
Daily disposable lenses don't need cleaning or disinfecting because they're only worn once then thrown away.
To keep your eyes healthy if you wear disposable lenses:
- make sure you put them in the right way round
- check them for faults or damage before putting them in
- never re-use them
Reusable contact lenses
There are two types of reusable lenses: soft and hard.
- soft reusable lenses – these can be reused daily for a set period of time, usually one week or one month
- hard reusable lenses – also known as rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, these can be reused every day for up to a year
Soft and hard reusable lenses both have to be disinfected with contact lens solution every day to prevent infections. Your contact lens prescriber will tell you how to do this.
To look after your reusable lenses safely:
- clean your lenses after you take them out by rubbing them with your contact lens solution
- rinse your lenses with contact lens solution after cleaning them
- leave them in the disinfecting solution overnight
- never reuse disinfecting solution or top it up – throw it away and use fresh solution every time
- only use the solution recommended by your contact lens practitioner, and follow the instructions carefully
- follow your practitioner's instructions for cleaning your storage case (don't use tap water)
- replace your lens case at least once a month
- never decant your solution into smaller travel-size bottles
When to get medical help
If in doubt, take your lenses out and go to your prescriber or local eye casualty department.
Get advice straightaway if you have:
- blurred vision
- painful, red or swollen eyes
- a white or yellow spot over the coloured part of your eye