The use of contact lenses is now widespread but few people use them properly. These objects are specially designed to be placed on the ocular surface and they require a prescription from a contactologist, as well as following guidelines and responsible use. In addition, the use of contact lenses generates a lot of doubts:
- What type of contact lenses should I choose?
- Can my child wear contact lenses? From what age is it possible to use them?
- What are the risks of contact lenses and how to avoid them?
- Should the lenses be rubbed when washing them? All types?
- What are contactologist and what is their role?
- What are pyjama lenses for myopic control?
- Why should the use of glasses be prioritized over contact lenses?
- In which cases do contact lenses provide greater visual acuity?
- Is everyone suitable for contact lens wear?
- What pathologies can be treated through the use of contact lenses?
We talked about all this with Eloi Rodríguez, head of the Contactology Department of the Barraquer Ophthalmology Centre and with Dr. José Lamarca, ophthalmologist in the Cornea and Ocular Surface area of the same Centre. Listen to their recommendations in Contact Lenses: keys to use them properly and avoiding complications # 8, the last episode of our podcast Decansa la vist (Rest your eyes).
When to see the contactologist
Although access to contact lenses is easy, they can even be purchased online, every contact lens wearer should previously consult an ophthalmologist, to assess eye health issues, and also a contactologist, who is the specialist in charge of prescribing them, personalizing them according to the characteristics of each patient and giving them the guidelines and indications to use them properly.
That is why it is essential to go to a specialized eye health centre before starting to use contact lenses or if their use has already started but without the supervision of a specialist. As Rodríguez affirms, “the lenses that are well indicated, adapted and used in accordance with hygiene rules do not cause problems. The real risk almost always appears due to an error made during use”.
Complications with the lenses
These are the main complications associated with the misuse of contact lenses:
- Incorrect handling: injuring or irritating the eye due to inexperience, that the lens has moved during use and the patient cannot remove it, that the user puts on an altered or partially broken lens... These situations have an easy solution by going to contact lens specialist or ophthalmologist, ideally if there is an ophthalmological emergency service. It is very important that the specialist knows the difficulties that may arise for the patient, in order to reinforce their skills and review the necessary guidelines for the correct use and enjoyment of the lens.
- Ocular inflammation or redness: this condition causes discomfort and difficult tolerance to contact lenses and discourages their use. It is necessary to carry out a correct analysis of the patient's state, to know the reason for that reaction and to be able to solve it. Sometimes it can be related to maintenance solutions and interaction with lens materials, artificial tears or preservative eye drops, or simply due to an incorrect contact lens that needs to be refitted.
- Infection: this is the worst situation in relation to the use of a contact lens. The most serious infections are all those caused by microorganisms such as pseudomonas, amoebas or fungi. These infections evolve rapidly and, unfortunately, have a high probability of ending in a cornea transplant.
Don't bathe with contact lenses still on
Neither in the sea, nor in the pool, nor in the shower at home. Although the water is drinkable, contact of the lens with the water is a risk factor for the appearance of the aforementioned complications. The benefits that contact lenses provide, such as getting out of the water and finding the towel, are totally insignificant if you know the real danger of bathing with them, so taking the risk is not worth it.
Contact lenses are made of oxygen-permeable materials to provide maximum oxygenation to the cornea and our ocular surface. They are made of plastic materials with a variable percentage of water that give them that flexibility and softness to the touch and act like a sponge in contact with water, absorbing and retaining any germs or bacteria that can damage our eyes. Therefore, it is important to avoid contact with water while wearing contact lenses.
Other recommendations would be replace contact lenses when required, maintain good hygiene guidelines and not exceed the time of use, indications that must be personalized with each patient according to their controls.
Listen to the podcast episode to find out all the recommendations and remember that you can send us your questions about eye health on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook through the hashtag #DescansaLaVista so that we can solve them in the next episodes.