Ah, the college years! The time to learn, make friends, work hard, and party harder. It may also be the first time you are on your own. If you’re a college student wearing contact lenses, you may have some questions about how to care for your contacts while enjoying college life.
That’s why we created this list of reminders specifically geared for you, the college student! Here are seven critical contact lens care tips just for you.
CONTENT: 7 Things for College Students to Remember When Wearing Contact Lenses
1. Don’t Try to Save Money by Reusing Daily Contacts
College is expensive. We get it. In addition to tuition and books, you are now responsible for clothes, food, take-out pizza, and quarters for the laundromat. Therefore, you are probably looking for ways to save money.
Daily-wear contacts are very comfortable, but they can be a bit pricey. For that reason you might wonder if you can get away with wearing them for a couple of extra days instead of the recommended wear time. Although we applaud you for trying to stick to a budget, this isn’t the way to do it.
Daily contacts have that name for a reason. They are meant for wearing for one day only. They’re not meant to wear multiple times because of the materials used to make them. Plus, they don’t allow oxygen to your eyes as easily as other contact lenses. So, if you wear them for more than a day, you may have uncomfortable, irritated eyes.
Your eyes can even send cells in to fight off the foreign invader that refuses to leave. This process can damage your cornea and leave scarring, which can lead to vision loss.
None of that is worth the few dollars you’ll save by wearing your contacts more than once. Consider curbing your fancy coffee habit instead!
2. Don’t Sleep in Your Contacts
Here are some things you can do to remember to take out your contacts after you’ve partied a bit too hard:
- Place your contact case somewhere you will see it when you get home to remind you to take out your contacts. Ladies, your purse or wallet is a good place to keep them.
- Write yourself a reminder note to take out your contacts and leave the message-to-self on your pillow or your bathroom mirror.
- Wear glasses instead of contacts so you don’t have to worry about remembering to take them out.
Sometimes, party-goers don’t find their way home after a party. That’s why you should also carry a contact lens case, a small bottle of multipurpose solution, and new lenses for those wearing dailies.
Why is all of this so important? Sleeping in your contacts is really bad for your eyes. The CDC found that most corneal infections occur when people sleep in their contacts. Since contacts limit the oxygen that gets to your eyes and closing your eyelids limits even more oxygen, you’re really asking for trouble.
Not everyone will go blind from sleeping in their contacts. But those that sleep in their contacts are far more likely to get inflammation, an infection, or even a corneal ulcer.
If you go out most nights and find that removing your contacts is just too difficult, there is a simple solution. You may want to talk to your eye doctor about extended wear contacts options. You can wear these continuously for a certain period of time, even while you sleep!
3. Don’t Mix Your Contacts With Water
Spring break on the beach is the perfect way to relax after a taxing time in class. However, before you head into the water, remember to take out your contacts!
The water you swim in is not sterile. Pool water and lake water is not safe either. Since your contacts soak up water so easily, they’ll also soak up the bacteria and chemicals that could cause infection.
A particularly bad infection is Acanthamoeba keratitis. When an amoeba lives off your cornea, it can end up being a painful experience, not to mention permanent blindness if not treated quickly.
4. Don’t Wear Your Contact Lenses All Night While Studying
You have a big exam coming up, so you’re planning to pull an all-nighter with high doses of caffeine and plenty of pizza. Wearing your contacts for the entire event is not a good idea. Remember, your eyes need oxygen, so keeping your contacts in all night even though you are awake is still damaging.
Not only that, but wearing your contacts without cleaning them leads to a build-up of deposits. These deposits make your eyes feel uncomfortable. They can also cause blurry vision.
So, if you’re planning to pull an all-nighter, you should wear your contacts until your normal bedtime. Then, take them out and put on your glasses. In the morning, before the big exam, you can put in your contacts again. This will give your eyes the break they need to stay healthy.
5. Don’t Share Makeup and Contacts With Your Roomie
You’ve been taught to share since you were a toddler. And everyone knows that sharing with a roomie is tons of fun. However, one thing you should not share is anything you put on or near your eyes.
- Your doctor picked the right contact lenses for you and your prescription. Even if you can see with your roomie’s color contacts, theirs are not made for your eyes. Contacts that don’t fit quite right can cause irritation, scratches, and lead to an infection.
- Eye makeup also has a lot of bacteria. If you use your roomie’s liquid mascara, you can easily pick up their bacteria. Once again, this leads to infections.
So, share your lunch, share your shoes, and even share your friends. But, under no circumstances should you share your contact lenses or eye makeup!
6. Don’t Forget Cleanliness
Always wash your hands when touching your contacts. Your hands carry bacteria. However, now that you are on a college campus, there are even more germs. Think about the number of people you see each day who could pass on bacteria. That’s why you need to wash each time you touch your contact lenses.
A common disease on a college campus is pink eye. If someone with pink eye touches a computer keyboard or the faucet in the bathroom, for example, and then you touch it, you have pink eye germs on your hand. Now, if you touch your eye without washing your hands, your contacts hold onto those pink eye germs. And, before you know it, you could have crusty, pink eyes.
When inserting, removing, and cleaning contacts, be sure your hands are clean and dry. Then, make sure you clean and disinfect your contacts carefully.
And don’t forget about your lens case. A dirty case can spread germs, too. After putting in your contacts, dump out the used contact solution from the case. Add some new solution and rub the wells with your clean finger. Rinse the contact case thoroughly with a multipurpose solution. Finally, let the case air dry.
7. Don’t Forget About the Eye Doctor
College students never want to hear about another exam. Nonetheless, keeping up-to-date on your eye exams is important. Students who wear contacts should see their doctor once a year. During this appointment, your eye care professional will check the health of your eyes and make sure your contacts fit correctly.
During this appointment, talk to your doctor about your college lifestyle. Detail any problems you have with keeping them clean, taking them out at night, or issues with dry eyes. This will help your eye doctor choose a contact lens that suits your prescription and your needs.
That’s it! This post explained the main things college students need to understand about wearing contact lenses. More importantly, it explained exactly what not to do.
So, enjoy your time at college. Learn a lot. Have fun. But most importantly, continue to see clearly and keep your eyes healthy.