Kudos to contact wearers everywhere; touching your eye every day is a task only for the bravest at heart. But unbeknownst to many, even the most common bad hygiene practices could leave you with an eye infection—or worse.
A recent report by a team at the Centers for Disease Control and Infection found that 80 percent of contact wearers above the age of 12 have at least one habit known to raise the risk of eye infections. Some of the bad habits included not removing the lenses before bedtime, wearing them in the swimming pool, and skipping eye doctor visits. Learn the 11 mistakes all contact wearers make.
Of more than 6,000 people surveyed, teenagers and young adults were more likely to report having a red or painful eye while wearing contact lenses. To researchers, this was a sign that poor hygiene habits could lead to complications down the road. (For starters, here’s what happens when you sleep in your contact lenses.)
“Young adults have been reported to have poor planning and a more impulsive lifestyle in relation to contact lens hygiene, possibly related to crowded living conditions (e.g., dormitories, living with roommates and sharing bathrooms), alcohol consumption and attitudes conducive to taking greater risks,” the researchers said in their report.
But young adults aren’t the only ones with germy contact lenses. The CDC’s 2015 survey found that millions of contact lens wearers had poor contact lens hygiene, causing nearly one-third of them to see an eye doctor as a result.
To avoid the harmful consequences of a lazy habit or two, the CDC recommends avoiding sleeping, swimming, or showering in lenses, as well as replacing them (and their case!) as often as recommended by an eye doctor. What’s more, contact wearers should always wash their hands with soap and water before touching their lenses, rinsing them with disinfecting solution when they are removed, and regularly visit an eye-care provider. You can even get started today with these simple habits to protect your eyes.