Do you have a habit of rubbing your eyes? You could be spreading germs and increasing your risk of eye infections!
Each time we touch our eyes, we’re introducing all kinds of germs from our fingers and whatever else we’ve touched. A wide variety of microscopic organisms live on our skin. They make up an entire ecosystem referred to as “skin flora.” They aren’t all bad; some microorganisms are actually beneficial to our health. Others can cause infections or diseases if they get past the barrier of the skin, which is what makes the eyes such a convenient entry point for them. Germs stick to our skin any time we touch a surface, and they particularly become trapped under the fingernails where they can breed and spread to other surfaces.
Care and Safety of Your Contact Lenses
Taking care of contact lenses is a slightly more involved process. Contact lenses are medical devices that sit directly on the eye, so cleaning them is more about hygiene than maintenance. Here are the major points:
- Make sure to only ever handle your contact lenses with freshly cleaned hands.
- Never reuse contact lens solution for cleaning or storage. All it takes is one use to contaminate the solution!
- Never use water on contact lenses (definitely never use spit!). All sources of freshwater contain microorganisms that you don’t want in your eyes.
- Follow the packaging instructions for how frequently to replace your contacts and how long to wear them before taking them out.
Don’t cut corners on your contact lens care! Even if it saves you a little money in new bottles of contact lens solution, it could cost you an eye infection somewhere down the line. The trade-off isn’t worth it.
Contact Lens Care Tips and Tricks
The Eye’s Defenses
The good news is that our eyes aren’t completely defenseless. Eyelashes aren’t just there to flutter at a crush, they keep out irritants. Blinking sweeps away debris that enters the eye. The tear film is a complex three-layer drainage system that keeps irritants away kind of like a moat around a castle. However, when we rub our eyes, we can create injuries to the cornea that give germs a way to get past our defenses.
Helping Protect Our Eyes from Germs
We encourage our patients to avoid frequently touching their eyes, particularly those who wear contact lenses. On occasions when you need to, such as to put in those contacts or take them out, you can minimize the risk of infection or contamination by washing your hands with soap first and keeping your fingernails trimmed. Fingernail germs are so difficult to scrub away that they’re the main reason doctors and nurses wear medical gloves! (Fake nails aren’t exempt from this problem either.)
Bring Us Your Eye Infection Concerns
If enjoyed this article about contact lens care tips and tricks or you’re ever experiencing eye symptoms like redness, itchiness, watering, tenderness, and burning, that could mean an eye infection. Schedule an appointment so that we can help you fight the infection or determine if it’s something else, and try not to rub your eyes in the meantime!