According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses. Many consumers may not be aware that contact lenses are medical devices and are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Additionally, the FDA states that contact lenses are not over-the-counter (OTC) devices and companies that sell them as such are misbranding the device and violating Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations by selling contact lenses without having a valid prescription.
Prevent Blindness, a nonprofit eye health organization, recommends several tips for contact lens care. Individuals should always visit an eye doctor to be fitted for contact lenses before use. Contact lenses should always be worn under the supervision of an eye doctor.
Before handling contact lenses, hands should be washed with soap and water, then rinsed and dried with a lint-free towel. Contact with water should be minimized, including removing lenses before going swimming or in a hot tub.
Individuals should never sleep in contact lenses unless authorized by an eye doctor, as this may increase the risk of infection, according to a new report from the CDC.
Contact lenses should not be rinsed with or stored in water (tap or sterile water). Contact lenses should be worn and replaced according to the schedule prescribed by an eye care professional. The contact lens case should be kept clean and replaced regularly, at least every three months.
Old solution should not be reused or "topped off" in the lens case. A cracked or damaged lens case should not be used. Lens cases can be a source of contamination and infection. Individuals should never trade or share lenses.
Contact lenses should be removed, if the eyes become red, irritated, or painful. If vision issues continue, individuals should contact an eye doctor immediately.
For more information on contact lens safety, readers may call 800-331-2020 or visit http://www.preventblindness.org/wearing-contact-lenses.