Eye Health: All Guides

Eye Health: General Information

What is eye health?

Eye health is about:

  • Getting your vision screened by your primary care provider or an eye health specialist.
  • Protecting your eyes during sports and other activities that could cause damage to your eyes
  • Getting early treatment for any injury to your eye(s)
  • Seeing an eye specialist if you have certain eye conditions such as dry or itchy eyes
You should see your primary care provider (PCP) every year for your checkup. During that visit let your PCP know if you are having any problems seeing fine print in books, the black board at school or when you’re watching movies. Any time you have any problems or symptoms with your eyes, call your PCP, who will help you decide if you need to see an eye specialist.

Have you ever thought about what’s inside your eyes? Your eyes have many parts working together to create the images you see.

Anatomy of the Eye

Let’s follow light as it enters your eye to understand how the eye works.

  • The cornea is the eye’s clear surface and what light first hits. The cornea bends light and sends it through the pupil.
  • The pupil is an opening that gets bigger or smaller. The colored part of your eye, the iris, controls the pupil’s size.
  • The lens focuses the light onto the back of the eye (retina).
  • The retina contains special cells (photoreceptors) that change light into signals.
  • The optic nerve receives signals from the retina and passes it to the brain. The brain uses these signals to create a picture of what you see.
Anatomy of the Eye

Other cool facts about your eyes:

  • Your eyes are filled with a jelly-like stuff called vitreous gel that gives your eyes their round shape.
  • The pupil (opening in your eye) gets larger when it’s dark to let in more light.
  • Muscles inside your eye can move your eyeball in almost any direction. That way you don’t have to move your head to see what’s out of the corner of your eye.
  • Iris (colored part of your eye) means “rainbow” in Greek. Even though the iris can be hazel, green, grey, blue, or brown, only one pigment is responsible for creating the iris’ color – it’s called melanin.

Eye Exam and Vision Testing

The American Academy or Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmologists (2 groups of medical experts) recommend that children and teens should have their eyes checked every 1-3 years. Your primary care provider will check your vision at your yearly checkup. Some schools also do vision testing. You will be referred to an eye specialist for more testing if necessary. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you should see an eye specialist once a year (or more often if you have an eye condition).

What’s the difference between vision testing and an eye exam?

Vision testing tells how well you can see, usually by having you read a chart with letters of different sizes. This is also called an acuity test. The test helps the eye specialist figure out if you need glasses or contacts to improve your vision. A full eye exam usually takes longer since it tests not only your vision, but other parts of your eyes as well.

What happens during an eye exam?

During an eye exam, the eye specialist performs tests to make sure your eyes are healthy. You may have a full eye exam or just a few tests, depending on what he/she thinks you need. Eye exams aren’t usually painful, but your eyes may feel a little irritated after the testing.

  • Dilation: The eye specialist may put drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils, which makes them bigger for a little while. It takes about 10-20 minutes for the medicine to work. Your eye specialist will then be able to look at the back of your eyes (called the retina), to check for any problems.

Dilated eyes are very sensitive to the sun so plan to wear sunglasses after your eyes have been dilated. Dilation also makes your vision blurry for several hours, but they will return to normal. You should make sure someone can drive you home from your eye appointment.

  • Pressure: The eye specialist may put the tip of an instrument called a tonometer near your eye. You will feel a quick puff of air. This tests the pressure of your eyes, which is also called tonometry, and is a test for glaucoma.
  • Side vision: The eye specialist will ask you to look up, down, right, and left while shining a light in your eyes. This test is done to check the movement of your eyes in different positions of gaze.
  • Peripheral vision: This test is done to check how far up and down or side to side you can see while looking straight ahead and how sensitive your vision is in different parts of the visual field. Your eye specialist or eye technician may do this manually by holding a finger or object in your peripheral vision (while you look straight ahead) or using a special machine that flashes light in your visual field.
  • Reflex: The eye specialist shines a small light in your eyes to see how the light is reflected on the cornea (front of the eye). The test is normal if the reflection is at the center of the pupils (eye opening).
  • Cover test: The eye specialist will place an eye paddle on one eye and then the other to assess if your eyes are straight or crossing.
Undilated Pupil vs. Dilated Pupil

Image Source: National Eye Institute

How often should I have my eyes checked?

You should visit your primary care provider (PCP) every year for a well checkup and if indicated, vision testing.

You should see your PCP if you’re having problems with your eyes, such as:

  • Blurry vision
  • Seeing double
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Light bothering your eyes
  • Tearing
  • Squinting
  • Itchy eyes – needing to rub your eyes often
  • Trouble reading
  • Trouble seeing the chalkboard at school
  • Headaches

*Sometimes eye symptoms such as redness and itchiness of the eye can be caused from allergies.

Why would I need to get my eyes checked more often than my friends?

Some diseases, injuries, or infections can affect the health of your eyes.

Your PCP may want you to have your eyes checked more often if you have any of these problems:

  • Past or current eye injury
  • Eye infection
  • Changes in vision
  • Diabetes
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Or if other people in your family have eye diseases or conditions such as glaucoma, strabismus (eye crossing), or they wear glasses

Frequently Asked Questions

My eyes water all the time; is this normal?

Having occasional tearing is common, but if your eyes water all the time it’s best to see your primary care provider. The most common cause of tearing is dry eye, allergies, or infection.

Is it safe to get my eyelids tattooed?

Eyelid tattoos can be very dangerous because of the tattoo’s closeness to the eyes. When a person gets an eyelid tattoo, ink is injected by a needle into the eyelid, puncturing the skin between 500-3000 times per minute. Risks include infection, an allergic reaction to the ink, and the needle could pierce the eye and cause blindness or other serious eye problems.

Most states require you to get your parents’ permission to get any type of tattoo if you are under 18. No matter what age you are, talk about it with your parents or a trusted adult before making a quick decision. If you understand all of the risks and have talked to a parent or guardian, and you still want to tattoo your eyelids, be sure to find a professional, experienced tattoo artist who uses only sterile equipment and has a clean studio. This is true before getting any tattoo for any part of your body.

Is it safe to get my eyebrow pierced?

Since the eyebrow is very close to the eyes, there are many possible risks to getting piercing in this area. Talk to a parent, guardian, or trusted adult. If you decide to get a piercing after doing your research and getting your parents’ permission as well as knowing the risks involved, make sure to go to an experienced piercer that uses sterile equipment. A piercing gun should never be used because it can damage tissue and cause infection.

Can you get an STI in your eye?

You could potentially get an STI in your eye if you or your partner touch an infected part of your genitals or anus and then touch or rub your eye(s) carrying bacteria to the eye. For example, if chlamydia infects the eye, it’s called chlamydial conjunctivitis and if gonorrhea infects the eye, it’s called gonococcal conjunctivitis.

Practice safer sex to prevent the spread of herpes and other STIs, using condoms and dental dams during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes during sex to lessen the risk of eye infection.

Eye Health: Protecting Your Eyes

Eye injuries can happen very quickly and can cause permanent damage to your vision. The good news is that most eye injuries can be prevented. Eye injuries include damage to any part of your eye, lid and area around your eye.

How can I protect my eyes?

  • Wear sunglasses every time you go outside to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Check the label on your sunglasses and make sure it blocks 100% UV-A and UV-B. Chronic exposure to sunlight over your lifetime can cause damage to your eyes.
  • Wear eye goggles when playing certain sports, working with tools, using chemicals, basically any activity that could cause an object such as a hockey stick, tennis ball, or chemical to enter your eye.
  • Give your eyes a break. Looking at a computer, phone, or video game screen for too long can make your eyes dry and irritated. Follow the
    “20-20-20 rule”. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits and dark leafy greens. Oranges, grapefruit, spinach, kale, and collard greens are good for eye health. Nuts, and fish such as salmon and tuna also keep your eyes healthy.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise brings oxygen and blood to the eyes, which keeps eyes healthy.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Get at least 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep keeps the eyes moist and flushes out irritants.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can lead to eye diseases. Not smoking or quitting smoking is important to eye health.

How can I prevent eye injuries?

Most eye injuries are prevented by wearing protective eyewear, which is specifically made to protect your eyes during certain activities and while playing sports. More than 90% of eye injuries are prevented by wearing protective eyewear.

What is protective eyewear?

Protective eyewear is durable, functional glasses with non-breakable lenses that vary in their design depending on what type of activity they are used for.

Choosing the right protective eyewear depends on the activity. Some examples of protective eyewear are sports goggles and safety glasses. Although they may improve your vision, regular eyeglasses are not considered protective eyewear.

How do I choose the right protective eyewear?

Talk to your eye specialist, parent(s) or guardian(s), coach, or teacher to find out what type of eyewear you should have.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) tests protective eyewear to see if it meets safety standards. Look for eyewear with ANSI or ASTM marked either on the frame, lenses, or packaging.

At Home/In the Classroom

Making a woodblock in art class, performing an experiment in chemistry class, helping with home improvements, gardening in the backyard. The next time you’re doing these activities, protect your eyes and wear safety glasses.

Safety glasses protect your eyes against anything that may come in contact with your eye by mistake as well as chemicals, and flying particles. The safety glasses are usually larger and more durable than regular eyeglasses. You may be able to wear your eyeglasses under the safety glasses, if they fit. If they don’t, ask your eye specialist if you can get prescription safety glasses.

Find ANSI approved safety glasses at hardware stores or school.

On the Field

Many teens are injured during sports. Most eye injuries are prevented by wearing sports goggles, also called sports eye guards. Goggles should be worn at all times for high risk sports: paintball, lacrosse, racquet sports such as tennis, football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Sports goggles have large, durable lenses or metal cages that resist breaking on impact. They may have a strap that wraps around the back of the head to keep the goggles in place. The earpieces are coated in rubber for added comfort and protection. Your eye specialist can give you a prescription for goggles if you wear glasses.

When playing sports that have a high risk of eye injuries, sports goggles should be worn with other types of eye protection. Face shields (sheet of polycarbonate) and wire masks (metal cages) offer added protection by attaching directly to a helmet and covering most or all of the face.

Choosing the best eye protection depends on the sports activity. See the table below for a list of ASTM tested sports equipment. Only purchase equipment with their seal.

Sports ActivityEquipmentASTM Number
Racket sports, Field hockey, Baseball, Basketball, LacrosseSports goggles with polycarbonate lensesASTM F803
HockeyFace shieldsASTM F513
Ice Hockey GoaltendersHead and face protectionASTM F1587
PaintballEye guardsASTM F1776
BaseballFace shields and masksASTM F910
SkiingEye guardsASTM F659

Emergency Eye Care

What should I do if I’m injured?

Eye injuries can be very serious. Go to the closest emergency room and follow these important first aid tips.

  • Don’t try to remove an object from the eye. Try blinking. If this doesn’t work, go to the emergency room.
  • Don’t touch an injured eye. Applying pressure or rubbing could make it worse.
  • Flush your eyes out with water for 15-20 minutes if you get a chemical or other liquid irritant in your eye. If you wear contact lenses, remove them right away.

Eye Health: Common Vision Problems and Eye Conditions

What are the different types of vision problems?

There are three common types of vision problems: nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Nearsightedness

Nearsightedness is also called myopia. People who are nearsighted can see fine up close, but things that are far away are blurry. One out of every four people in the U.S. is nearsighted. Nearsightedness may get worse when you’re a teenager. People whose parents are nearsighted may be more likely to be nearsighted themselves.

Myopia

“The cornea and lens bend (refract) incoming light rays so they focus in front of the retina.” Source: National Eye Institute

Farsightedness

Farsightedness is also called hyperopia. People who are farsighted can see distant objects clearly, but things up close are blurry. But some people with severe farsightedness have trouble seeing things up close and far away.

About one in every ten to twenty people is farsighted. You may become farsighted if your parents are farsighted.

Hyperopia

“The cornea and lens bend (refract) incoming light rays so they focus behind the retina.” Source: National Eye Institute

Astigmatism

People with astigmatism may see blurry or stretched out images. You may have mild astigmatism and not know it because it doesn’t cause a noticeable change to your vision.

How do I fix my vision problem?

If you think you have a vision problem, see an eye specialist for a full eye exam. He/she will test your vision during the exam and decide what type of vision problem you have. Your eye specialist will write you a prescription for corrective lenses, if you need them. Then it’s time for you and your eye specialist to decide what type of corrective lenses is best for you: glasses or contacts.

Should I get glasses or contact lenses?

Deciding between glasses and contact lenses can be a difficult choice. Talk to your eye specialist and your parent(s)/guardian(s) about the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

Common Eye Conditions

Watery Eyes

Watery eyes make too many tears, which is why this condition is also called excessive tearing.

Watery eyes may be caused by:

  • Blocked tear duct
  • Irritation
  • Dry eyes
  • Cold
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Cold weather
  • Wind
  • Medications such as antihistamines

Is there anything I can do to make my watery eyes feel better?

Yes. You can try applying warm compresses to your eyes and/or use saline eye drops to keep your eyes moist. If the problem doesn’t go away, see your primary health care provider (PCP). If you have any pain or changes in vision, call right away.

Pink eye/Conjunctivitis

A person with conjunctivitis usually has one or two eyes that look very red; this condition is often called, “pink eye.” Conjunctivitis is the swelling of the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid.

Conjunctivitis may be caused by infection, allergy, or irritation. Infections are very contagious and may be spread at school when teens are in close contact. Not taking care of contact lenses may also cause infection.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Soreness
  • Pus
  • Swelling
  • Crusting of the lashes, especially on awakening in the morning

Treating Conjunctivitis

Contact your primary care provider if you have any symptoms of conjunctivitis. Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause. Antibiotic ointments or eye drops may be prescribed if bacteria may be causing the conjunctivitis.

  • Virus – There is no treatment, though cold compresses on the eyes will make you feel more comfortable. The infection should clear up in one to two weeks.
  • Allergies – Antihistamines may keep the allergies under control. Cold compresses on the eyes usually help.

Preventing Conjunctivitis

  1. Wash your hands regularly.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes.
  3. Keep your contacts clean and take them out at night.
  4. Use clean towels to wipe your face.

Colorblindness

For many people, it’s hard to imagine the world without color, but for people with colorblindness, or a color vision defect, living without color is a way of life.

There are three types of colorblindness – not being able to see red and green, not seeing blue and yellow, and seeing no color at all. Most people inherit colorblindness from their parents and since there is no treatment, they learn to live with the condition.

Approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world are colorblind. Although some medications can cause colorblindness, most people are born with the condition.

Styes

A sty is a red bump on your eyelid that is often painful. The bump can be on the inside or outside of the upper or lower lid near the eyelashes. A sty is a common eye condition and is caused when an oil gland on the lid gets clogged with bacteria, oil, or dead skin cells.

Blepharitis

When one or both eyelids (where the eyelashes grow) become inflamed, the condition is commonly due to blepharitis. This can happen if the tiny oil glands near the bottom of the eyelashes become blocked. Symptoms often include itchy eyelids, red and watery eyes, flaking of the skin around the eyes/lids, sensitivity to light, and crusty lids in the morning. See an eye specialist if symptoms don’t get better.

 

Eye Health: Glasses and Contacts

Has your primary care provider said you need glasses, but you’re afraid they won’t look good? Do you think contacts might hurt your eyes or be hard to take care of?

It’s normal to have lots of questions and feel nervous about getting glasses or contacts. However, it’s important to wear them if your vision needs correcting. Not wearing corrective lenses can cause headaches and other problems.

How do I know if I need glasses?

If you’re having trouble reading or seeing the blackboard, it’s possible that you need glasses or contacts. If you already have glasses or contacts, your vision may have changed and you need a new prescription. Learning disabilities can also cause reading problems by making it difficult to write, read, or do math. It’s important to see a doctor to understand why you’re having trouble reading.

Why do I need glasses or contacts?

Many teens have trouble seeing objects up close or far away. This is called a refractive error and is the most common type of eye problem. Refractive errors are caused by the eyes’ shape being abnormal. This means that the eye doesn’t bend light in the right way to create a clear picture.

Wearing glasses or contacts is one way to correct your vision and help your eyes see clearly.

You may have a refractive error if:

  • Your vision is blurry or hazy
  • You have headaches
  • Your eyes hurt
  • You see a glare around bright lights
  • You have to squint to see well
  • You see double
  • You have trouble driving at night

How do glasses and contacts work?

To understand how corrective lenses work; let’s first review how your eyes see. Your eyes have lenses that focus light on the retina, or back of the eye. The retina changes the light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. The brain uses these signals to create an image of what you see.

Normal Eye Anatomy

The cornea and lens bend the incoming light so that the image is focused on the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. (See image above)

Many people’s eyes are abnormally shaped. This means that the lens can’t focus light on the retina. Depending on the type of vision problem you have, the light can fall in front of or behind the retina. This creates a blurry image.

Glasses and contacts change the direction of light so that it hits the retina and creates a clear picture.

Glasses

Glasses have been around since the ancient Egyptians and they work even better today. Glasses are easy to wear and take care of.

Choosing Frames

Frames are the part of the glasses that hold the lenses. They come in lots of different shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. You’ll be able to decide what shape/style looks best and is most comfortable on your face. However, some frames will fit better than others.

Here’s what you should look for:

  1. Choose frames that don’t touch your eyelashes or cheeks.
  2. Make sure your eyes are in the center of the lenses.
  3. Adjust the pieces behind the ear and pads near the nose for the best fit.

Other things to think about:

  • Some frames last longer than others.
  • Spring-loaded frames are less likely to bend or warp.
  • Nose pads prevent the frames from slipping on your nose and provide added comfort.

The Right Lenses for Your Lifestyle

Eyeglass lenses come in different prescriptions, depending on what type of vision problem you have. Lenses correct your vision by refocusing light onto the retina, or back of the eye. After your doctor gives you a prescription for lenses, you still have some choices to make about the type of lenses you’d like.

Lenses are made from different materials. Choosing the right lenses depends on what activities you do and how you’re going to use your glasses. Only you can decide what lenses are right for your lifestyle. But your lenses do need a couple of things to last a long time and give you the right amount of protection.

Make sure your lenses:

  • Are shatter resistant (made of polycarbonate) – Shatter resistant lenses are designed to protect your eyes from injury and not break if you drop them.
  • Have U.V. (ultraviolet) protection – This protects your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

You may want your lenses to have other features. Talk to your eye specialist and parent(s) or guardian(s) about what lenses are best for you. Keep in mind that these features usually cost more money.

  • Anti-Reflective Coating cuts down on glare from bright lights. May make it easier to see when you’re driving at night.
  • Scratch Coating reduces number of scratches on your lenses.
  • Tinting – Color added to lens for style or to block out the sun. Lenses can also get darker in outdoor light to act as sunglasses.
  • Thin lenses are lightweight and very thin. They may feel lighter on your face.

Taking Care of Your Glasses

Even shatter resistant glasses can break, if you’re not careful.

Here are a few tips for taking care of your glasses:

  1. Put your glasses back in the case when you’re not wearing them.
  2. Be careful not to set your glasses down on the lenses, which may scratch.
  3. Keep your lenses clean by wiping them with a clean, dry cloth, or with a special eyeglass cleaning liquid.
  4. Only wear sports goggles when playing sports. Wearing normal eyeglasses could cause injury.

When should I wear my glasses?

  • Wear your glasses as often as you need them to see. This may be all the time or only sometimes. Bring your glasses with you at all times, so you can be sure to have them if you need them.
  • Bring your glasses to your driving test and wear them if you need them. If your driver’s license says you wear corrective lenses, wear your glasses every time you drive.
  • Wear sports goggles during sports or other physical activities when you need your glasses. Do NOT wear your normal glasses during sports. Glasses can break and seriously injure your eyes. Sports goggles are designed to protect your eyes and can be made with the same prescription as your eyeglasses, but they’re shatterproof and safe.

Contacts

Contact lenses work in much the same way as glasses. They correct your vision by focusing light on the back of the eye, or retina. The difference is that contacts sit on your eyeball, instead of in front of your eyes. For this reason, they can be dangerous if not used properly.

What are contacts?

Contacts are small, plastic discs that sit on your cornea–the clear surface of the eye. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 30 million people in the U.S. wear contacts. Similar to glasses, contacts can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

There are different types of contacts, but most people wear soft lenses. These lenses are thin and usually feel comfortable on your eye. Soft contacts can be worn once and thrown out or reused for weeks or months, depending on the type of contact lenses you buy.

  • Single use lenses are worn for only one day and then thrown out.
  • Daily wear lenses are worn during the day and taken out at night. You throw them out after many weeks. They are less expensive but need to be cleaned frequently.
  • Extended wear lenses are worn day and night for a certain number of weeks. They have a higher risk of infection and other eye problems.

Are contacts right for me?

Contacts are not right for everyone. People with certain eye conditions or who are prone to infections should wear glasses instead of contacts. If your doctor doesn’t think contacts are right for you, he or she will give you a prescription for glasses.

Contacts are harder to take care of than glasses. They also take more time to clean and to put in your eyes. If you’re going to wear contacts, you have to be willing to put in the extra time and energy to keep your eyes healthy.

Some people have trouble touching their eyes. If you don’t like touching your eyes, it may be hard for you to put your contacts in and take them out. You may have to practice doing this before you feel comfortable wearing contacts or you may find that glasses are a better choice for you.

Reasons contacts may not be right for you:

  • Allergies
  • Eye infections
  • Dry eyes
  • Don’t have the time to take care of lenses
  • Trouble touching your eyes

What happens when I get contacts?

Your eye specialist may prescribe contacts for you during your eye exam or you may have to come back for another visit to get your prescription.

Finding the right contacts for your eyes is called a contact lens fitting. This may take 2-3 hours in order to find a contact lens that fits your eye and feels comfortable.

Your eye specialist will show you how to put your contacts in and take them out, and how to take care of them. You will practice with the eye specialist until you feel comfortable doing it on your own.

The eye specialist may have your contacts in the office or they may have to be ordered. A follow-up appointment is usually scheduled for a week after you start wearing contacts, so the eye specialist can check how your eyes are doing.

How do contacts feel?

Wearing contacts may feel strange at first. You may feel like there is something moving on the surface of your eye. It takes 10-15 minutes for contacts to settle into place when you first put them in your eyes. Once they stop moving, you will probably feel nothing.

If you wear your contacts for too long or your eyes are dry, the contacts may feel uncomfortable.

If this happens:

  • Use wetting drops to moisten the surface of the contact lenses. Don’t use other kinds of eye drops as they can damage your contacts.
  • Take the contacts out of your eyes and give your eyes a break.

Some lenses are larger, such as the ones that correct for astigmatism. It may take longer to get used to these lenses.

How do I put contacts in my eyes?

Put in your contacts in the morning, after you shower or take a bath or wash your face.

  1. Stand in front of a mirror in a well-lit bathroom.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them on a clean, lint-free towel.
  3. Take one lens (either right or left) out of the case and place it in the palm of your hand. The lens should look like a bowl sitting on its base, not an upside down bowl.
  4. Add several drops of fresh contact solution to the lens.
  5. Rub the lens gently with your finger up and down and then back and forth for 30 seconds. Do not rub the lens in a circle. This can damage the lens.
  6. Place the lens on the tip of your index finger.
  7. Use the middle finger of the opposite hand to gently pull back the upper eyelid of the eye you’re going to put the lens in.
  8. With the hand holding the lens, use the middle finger to gently pull down the lower lid.
  9. Look straight ahead as you gently place the lens on the colored part of your eye (iris) with your index finger. Make sure the lens follows the shape of your eyeball.
  10. Rinse the lens case out with fresh solution. Place it upside down to dry.
  11. If the lens feels uncomfortable for more than a few minutes, it may be inside out. Follow the steps for taking out your contacts. Gently flip the lens right side out and put the lens back in.

How do I take contacts out of my eyes?

Take out your contacts at night before going to bed. Do this before you wash your face or take a shower. Don’t leave your contact in overnight or if you take a nap. This may cause eye infections.

  1. Stand in front of a mirror in a well-lit bathroom or use a stand mirror.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them on a clean, lint-free towel.
  3. Fill the lens case with fresh contact solution.
  4. Always remove the same contact lens first; generally this is the right contact lens.
  5. Look up and pull down the lower lid with the middle finger of your removal hand. With your thumb and index finger, gently squeeze the lower edge of the contact and pull it away from the eye. Place the contact in the palm of your hand. The lens should look like a bowl sitting on its base, not an upside down bowl.
  6. Add several drops of fresh contact solution to the lens.
  7. Rub the lens gently with your figure up and down and then back and forth for 30 seconds. Do not rub the lens in a circle. This can damage the lens.
  8. Place the lens in the right compartment of the lens case. Make sure it is covered by fresh solution. Replace the cap and screw tightly into place.
  9. Repeat with the other lens.

Be very careful when removing your contacts. Pressing too hard or scratching the eyes with your nails may cause serious injury.

How long can I wear my contacts?

  1. Only wear your contacts during the day. Take out your contacts at night before you go to bed or before you take a nap.
  2. Ask your eye specialist how long you can use your contacts before changing to a new pair. Some contacts are thrown out after a day and others after weeks or months.
  3. Mark the date you need to replace your contacts on your calendar. If you use a calendar on the computer or your phone, set an automated reminder so that you won’t forget to replace the contacts.
  4. When it’s time to replace the contacts, simply throw out the old ones and open a new pack. Make sure you put the correct lens in each eye, if your eyes have different prescriptions.

How can I keep my eyes healthy when I wear contacts?

Keeping your eyes healthy while you wear contacts takes time and energy. However, proper contact care prevents eye infections and other problems.

  1. Keep your lenses clean to reduce the risk of eye infections.
  2. Wash your hands before you handle your contacts.
  3. Don’t shower or wash your face while you’re wearing contacts. Take them out first to prevent infections.
  4. Do NOT wear contact lenses while swimming or if you go into a hot tub.
  5. Keep your nails short to keep from scratching or harming your eyes while taking out your contacts.
  6. Don’t smoke while you’re wearing contacts. It may cause eye problems.
  7. See your doctor every year for an eye exam. Bring your contacts with you. Your eye specialist will check and see if you need a new prescription.

Contact Lens Solution

  1. Always clean and store lenses with fresh solution. Do not reuse old solution or use another type of liquid.
  2. Only use contact solution to store and clean your contacts. Homemade solutions, hydrogen peroxide, saline solution, or other liquids can damage your eyes or contacts.
  3. Keep the tip of the solution bottle from touching anything and the bottle tightly closed.
  4. Buy trial size bottles of contact solution for travel. Do not put solution into an empty bottle. This may cause infections.

Wetting Drops

  1. Only use wetting drops while you’re wearing contacts. Regular eye drops may damage your contacts or eyes.

Replacing Lenses

  1. Your eye specialist will let you know how often you should change your contact lenses, which is based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Some lenses can be used for weeks and others for months, depending on the brand.
  2. Throw out torn or damaged lenses. They will not work properly and will hurt your eyes.
  3. Only wear your contacts during the day and take them out at night, even if you have extended wear contacts (unless your eye doctor tells you to use them overnight).
  4. Don’t store contacts for a long period of time. Without daily cleaning, bacteria can grow–even in the case–making you prone to eye infections. Ask your eye specialist how often you should replace your lenses and how to store them if you don’t wear them on a daily basis.

Lens Case

  1. Rinse out your contact lens case with contact solution and let it dry while you’re wearing your contacts. This keeps the case clean.
  2. Replace your contact lens case every 3 months to keep the lenses clean and prevent infections.

When should I see a health care provider?

It’s important to see your PCP right away if you have any problems with your contacts.

See your PCP right away if you have:

  • Blurry vision
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Sensitivity to light

“Circle Lenses” Are Never Cool

Decorative lenses, also called “circle lenses” or “big eye lenses,” are worn for fashion or as part of a costume. Decorative lenses are not prescription lenses. They don’t correct vision problems and aren’t prescribed by an eye specialist.

Decorative lenses change the color or shape of your eyes. They are usually much larger than prescription contact lenses. They also have not been tested for safety. They are sold in costume shops or over the Internet. The manufacturer may say that the lenses are “one size fits all” or that you don’t need to see an eye specialist to wear these lenses.

The truth is that decorative lenses are potentially very dangerous. Because they are larger than contact lenses, they prevent oxygen from reaching the eyes. They are not disinfected and can cause serious infection or even blindness.

There’s no safe way to wear decorative lenses. Don’t wear them at all and let your friends know about their dangers too.