Colored contacts are a fun way to jazz up your eyes and try different looks. What’s harder to remember is that color contacts are also medical devices and should be worn under the care of an eye doctor. Unlike borrowing a pair of shoes or trying on your best friend’s new top, contact lenses should never be shared. If you do, you risk of passing along harmful bacteria that could cause a serious eye infection.
Here are the eight steps you must follow while wearing contacts, be they colored or clear lenses, to ensure that your eyes stay healthy and problem free.
1. Be Professionally Fitted for Colored Lenses
In the US, you must have a valid contact lens prescription to order lenses. It’s the law! This means you must be professionally fitted for colored contacts by an eye care professional such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist. But an eye exam by an eye doctor is more than just measuring and fitting. It involves testing for various eye conditions and evaluating the overall health of your eyes, which is why it is so important. Even in countries that don’t require prescriptions to order lenses, always get an eye exam and fitting.
2. Ensure Your Prescriptions is Valid and Up-to-Date
You have a valid and verifiable prescription from your eye care professional. This is true even if you want Plano lenses (or lenses without any vision correction). Plano lenses are often called cosmetic or “non-prescription” lenses, which can be confusing because you do, in fact, require a prescription for them. If you are ordering online in the US, your prescription must be verified by the online retailer before they are allowed to ship the lenses to you.
3. Purchase Lenses from a Licensed Contact Lens Retailer
Do not under any circumstances purchase lenses from unregulated outlets, such as beauty salons, gas stations, or corner stores. In the US, all contact lenses, including colored lenses, cannot be sold to you without a valid prescription. Online, you can find non-US sites that allow you to purchase without a prescription, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need one; you do. Work with your eye care professional on the lenses you want to try. Think about it. These are your eyes and your eyesight is precious.
4. Do Not Share Colored Contacts with Others
Do not under any circumstances share your contact lenses with others, even if all you want is to try on a different color for fun. Contact lenses aren’t like a pair of shoes! They’re are fitted to specific parameters that are unique to you. Plus, by sharing or improperly handling lenses, you can transmit bacteria that cause infection or harmful eye conditions.
5. Follow the Advice of Your Eye Doctor on Caring for Your Lenses
You must follow the advice of your eye care professional on wearing, caring for, and disposing of your contact lenses, including getting prescription refills at the recommended intervals, and keeping your prescription up-to-date. Anytime your eyes become irritated, swollen, itchy, or produce discharge while wearing of contacts, discontinue use until you can talk to your eye doctor about it.
6. Do Not Sleep with Colored Contacts Unless Advised By Your Eye Doctor
You must follow the advice of your eye doctor when it comes to how long you should wear your colored contacts at a time. If you fail to follow these instructions (like sleeping with your lenses in), your eyes can become deprived of oxygen, which can lead to all kinds of serious eye problems, even blindness. Most colored contacts are not designed to be worn while sleeping, so don’t take any chances.
7. Handle Colored Contacts Correctly
Make sure you handle your colored contacts properly and safely, including washing and drying hands before touching your lenses, cleaning, rinsing and disinfecting lenses after use with the proper products, and discarding daily colored disposable lenses at the end of the day, even if they still feel fine.
8. Insert Colored Contacts Before Applying Makeup
Eye makeup, such as mascara and shimmery eye shadows, can flake and get into your eyes. What makes matters worse, is that when you wear contacts, the grit can stick to the lens surface making your eyes feel like sandpaper. To avoid makeup getting on your lenses, insert your colored contacts first, with clean hands, before applying eye makeup. At the end of the day, remove lenses before removing your makeup.
9. Replace Lens Cases Every Three Months
Replace your lens cases every three months to avoid bacteria contamination and keep lens cases dry when not storing lenses.
10. Never Wet Lenses Tap Water or Saliva
This is a big no-no. It might seem hard to resist doing if you are out and about, and your eyes are so gritty or itchy you just can’t stand it. No matter what, never clean or re-wet gritty lenses with tap water or saliva, and never reuse disinfecting solution. Always use clean, sterile contact lens solution to clean your lenses.
As you can see, color contacts, like clear contacts, are safe to wear if you remember these few simple rules, and following these precautions is easy if you make it part of your eye care routine.