Back in April, we reported on the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s (AAO) recommendation that contact lens wearers switch back to glasses for the time being, for pandemic reasons. In addition to avoiding anything that involves sticking your fingers in your eyes right now, the AAO also pointed out that contact lens mishaps could require medical attention, and we should really try to stay out of medical facilities if at all possible.
But, as Lifehacker Deputy Editor Jordan Calhoun put it, “abstinence-only glasses education won’t work — people are going to wear contacts.” If that’s your situation, and you need to wear contact lenses right now (people have their reasons!), here’s how to do it as safely as possible.
Of course you need to wash your hands
This really shouldn’t be anything new — especially during a pandemic — but you absolutely must wash your hands before touching your contact lenses and then popping them onto your eyeball. “It’s important to remember that although there is a lot of concern about coronavirus, common sense precautions can significantly reduce your risk of getting infected,” Dr. Sonal Tuli, an ophthalmologist and spokesperson for the AAO says in an article on the organisations’s website. “So wash your hands a lot [and] follow good contact lens hygiene.”
Don’t forget about your case
If the outside of your contact lens case is covered in some sort of bathroom and/or finger grime, unless you’re washing your hands again after you open the case, that gunk is going into your eyes. And even though it seems like the insides of the cases would be perpetually clean, you need to do more than just dump the used contact water in the sink after you put them in.
The AAO recommends rinsing the inside of your case with sterile contact lens solution (not tap water) then leaving the empty case open to air dry. Dr. Ed Bennett, an optometrist and professor emeritus at the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry takes it one step further, and advises throwing your case away (and getting a new one) each week.
Avoid rubbing your eyes
Like hand-washing, this is another one that applies to everyone right now. And while there’s no evidence that wearing contacts increases your risk of COVID-19, Tuli points out that contact lens wearers touch their eyes more than the average person, so it’s something to keep in mind.