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Lens care

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Updated: 1/14/2003 2:31 pm
Caring for contact lenses involves two basic steps, regardless of the type of lens: cleaning and disinfection. Cleaning involves removing dirt, pollen, oils, makeup, and other substances from the surface of the lens. Disinfection means making the lens free from bacteria and viruses that can cause infection. How you care for your lenses depends on the type of lens you're wearing. Here are a few general rules to stick to. Always follow the manufacturer's-- and your doctor's-- instructions, and use the recommended cleaning and storing solutions. Wash your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses, and avoid using a creamy or oily soap, which can leave a film on your hands that can transfer to the lenses. Make sure the drain of any nearby sink is securely closed. Handle contact lenses over a clean towel, so if you drop a lens, it will likely stay clean and undamaged, and it will be easier to locate. If it falls on the floor, make sure it isn't chipped or torn before you put it in your eye. Don't put a lens in your mouth or moisten it with saliva, which is full of bacteria and a potential source of infection, unlike tears. Use only commercial saline (SAY-leen) solutions, not ones you make yourself. Make sure your lenses are kept wet when they're not it your eye, especially soft lenses. If you have an eye infection or you're using an eye medication, don't wear your lenses. Don't sleep while wearing contacts, unless they're extended-wear lenses designed to be worn overnight. Establish a routine of always removing the same lens first, in order to avoid accidentally interchanging your lenses. Insert them before you apply your makeup, especially eye makeup. Store your lenses in the case made for them and keep the case clean. Keep a backup pair of contact lenses and glasses on hand for when you lose or can't wear a contact.

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