Most Americans have fairly good vision, according to the National Institutes of Health, but about 14 million people are visually impaired. If you’re one of the unlucky ones who needs contact lenses or glasses, we’ve got bad news: Chances are, you’re probably making some key mistakes with your eyecare.
We’re not talking about big mistakes, per se—we doubt you’re staring straight into the sun every other day—but you’re probably slacking on your contact care, overspending on prescriptions, and just generally making a mess of the whole optometry thing. Here are a few habits to change.
1. You’re not switching your contacts out regularly.
We get it, those things are expensive. However, per the CDC, about 1 out of every 500 contact lens users develops serious eye infections each year. Those infections can lead to blindness if untreated.
The CDC noted that improper lens care has been linked to outbreaks of serious infections, so while you might really want to stay in bed instead of plucking out your contact lenses at night, you should probably make the effort.
Unfortunately, most people don’t adhere to that advice: between 40 and 90 percent of contact lens wearers ignore the care instructions for their contacts. That’s a pretty wide range; people lie when confronted with survey questions like, “Are you taking care of your contacts, or are you just a total doofus?”
2. You’re going to the eye doctor for simple prescription updates.
Don’t get us wrong, you should visit the eye doctor regularly, but if you simply need to renew your prescription, you can do that online.
Sites like 1-800-Get-Lens provide online eye tests, reviewed by physicians, which work perfectly fine for those annual updates. Just be sure to go to the real-life optometrist’s office for glaucoma tests and other eyecare essentials.
3. You’re rinsing your contacts incorrectly.
Read the instructions that come with your solution, and you’ll realize that you have no idea what you’re doing.
For starters, you’re never supposed to top off your solution. That dilutes it, effectively limiting the cleaning power (and increasing your risk of infections). And don’t even think about using tap water in place of lens solution—tap water can contain Acanthamoeba, an amoeba that will invade and infect your cornea.
Go ahead and read that last sentence again. If that’s not enough motivation to prompt better eyecare, we don’t know what to tell you.