Are Contact Lenses Safe?
Yes, contact lenses are FDA-approved and safe. Nearly 40 million Americans wear contact lenses for vision correction, with few people experiencing serious complications.
However, a lot of factors go into contact lens safety and most of them are dependent on the wearer. Contact lens guidelines must be followed to prevent eye injury or infection. Here are five easy steps to ensure contact lens safety:
1. Get a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting.
First things first, you’ll need to get a prescription from an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist. During your comprehensive eye exam, you’ll complete a visual acuity test along with several other health examinations. You’ll also need to get a contact lens examination and fitting. This fitting isn’t part of the standard comprehensive eye exam and usually has an additional fee.
During a contact lens examination and fitting, your doctor will measure the curve and diameter of your eye to determine what size and type of contact lens with be comfortable for you. At this point, you’ll also decide if you prefer disposable contact lenses or extended wear. For more information on this, check out step #5.
If you’re new to contact lenses, your doctor will walk you through how to care for them including cleaning, storage, and even how to get them in your eye. We also recommended checking out our guide to getting started with contact lenses.
Finally, if this is your first time using a specific type of contact lens, your doctor will provide you with trial lenses so that you can test them out for a few days. You’ll need a follow up appointment to discuss how it went and try a different type if they were uncomfortable.
Ready to set up your eye exam? We can help you find a doctor.
2. Be age-appropriate.
Many parents ask how old their child needs to be to wear contact lenses. There isn’t a set age requirement. Instead, it should be based on maturity, ability to take care of their contact lenses themselves, and personal hygiene. According to the American Optometric Association, 51% of doctors believe that age is usually 10-12 years old, 22.6% say 13-14 years old, and 12.4% say 8-11 years old.
Daily disposable contact lenses may be a good place to start since they don’t require cleaning or storage and can be replaced each day. Still, good hygiene is necessary—hands need to be washed before inserting or removing contact lenses to prevent eye infections.
3. Buy quality contact lenses.
When buying online, make sure you buy from a trusted source like Eyeconic. Look for authorized contact lens retailers and emblems like Google Trusted Store, which indicate that the supplier is trustworthy. There is an online grey market for contact lenses where unauthorized retailers sell nearly expired product and do not buy it directly from the manufacturer, which raises concerns about quality. They often draw customers in with prices that are below market value.
Contact lenses are not over-the-counter devices so the retailer must also confirm your prescription with your doctor. It is easy to enter the wrong prescription online, so prescription validation ensures that you’ll receive the correct Rx.
If you find a website that you think is illegally selling contact lenses online, you can report them to the FDA.
4. Follow care instructions.
Each type of contact lens comes with care instructions. Because contact lenses vary in replacement schedule, cleaning, and storage requirements, you must follow the instructions that come with your contacts. Hygiene is always of the utmost importance. Touching your eyes with dirty hands, rewetting your contacts with saliva, or storing them in water can cause eye infection and discomfort. Learn more about how to care for your contacts.
5. Follow the replacement schedule.
Wearing contact lenses past their recommended replacement date can cause scratches on your cornea and infection. Disposable contact lenses come with replacement schedules that can be daily or monthly.
For those who don’t want to remove their contact lenses every day, there are new products on the market that allow you to sleep in your contacts. Silicone hydrogels allow more oxygen to pass through the lens, so your cornea can breathe while you sleep. Extended wear contact lenses can be worn continuously for up to six nights and seven days.
Because of new technology, there are even continuous wear contact lenses that can be worn for up to 30 days straight. Your doctor will determine if you are a good candidate for one of these options.