Users of contact lenses must know the importance of proper eye hygiene. A study conducted by Bausch & Lomb in August determined that a large number of individuals are using strange chemicals in place of contact solution to keep their lenses moist. Everything from baby oil, to coke to petroleum jelly was reportedly used as a substitute to proper contact lens solution by 20% of the 2,000 adults polled in the survey conducted in the UK.
An even larger number of the respondants reported that they have used saliva when inserting their contacts. Considering that the average adult mouth is known to be the home of hundreds of varieties of bacteria, this can pose a serious health risk to your eyes. Further, far too many individuals presume that water from a tap or bottle is a suitable replacement for contact lens solution, however even pure bottled water or distilled water can contain parasites that can damage the eye and have been associated with Acanthamoeba keratitis, an infection that could lead to blindness. In fact, if you get water in your eyes when swimming or bathing while wearing your lenses, it's recommended to remove your lenses as quickly as you can and disinfect them to rinse away any microorganisms that may have stuck to them.
Sterilizing your lenses is an absolute and only approved lens disinfectants should be used. It's dangerous to keep your contact lenses in water! Storing your contact lenses in water does not thoroughly clean them and dangerous fungi can grow on your contacts almost instantly and enter your eyes with the contacts. In addition, lens solution is balanced to match the saltiness of the tear film in your eyes and water on the other hand can cause a reaction which makes your contacts change shape or stick causing discomfort and blurred vision.
When necessary care is not possible for you, definitely consider using daily disposable contacts rather than lenses that you reuse. Speak to your optometrist about taking age, lifestyle and level of responsibility into consideration when deciding which contact lens options are best for you.
Remember failure to properly care for your contacts with approved contact lens solution can result in permanent damage to the eyes, loss of vision and even total blindness!