To be clear, no all Germs are actually pathogens that can cause problems with your eyes, but some can compromise your eye health. For example, keratitis, a painful inflammation of your corneas (the transparent, domed layers of your eyes that help your vision focus), can occur due to microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. . You can get all of this into your eyes more easily with dirty hands, so wash them first.
According to the American Optometric Association, it’s also crucial to make sure you dry your hands thoroughly, as wet hands transmit germs more easily than dry hands.
4. You fall asleep without removing your contacts.
Sleeping with contact lenses puts you at higher risk for eye infections, even if the contacts are prescribed for nighttime use.
When you sleep with contact lenses on, you reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your eyes, says Dr. Fogt. This can lead to eye infections like keratitis. It can also cause or exacerbate dry eye symptoms. This condition occurs when you don’t have enough tears to lubricate your eyes, and it can lead to redness, stinging, burning, itching, sensitivity to light, and a feeling that something is in your eyes, between other problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, contact lens wearers are at higher risk of getting the disease in general, and sleeping in your lenses only makes the problem worse.
Also, depending on the type you wear, leaving your contacts overnight may mean you don’t clean them regularly, Corinne Casey, OD, optometrist at Katzen Eye Group, tells SELF. Allergens, various microorganisms, and protein deposits from your tear film all build up on your lens surfaces during the day, Dr. Casey says. If you have reusable contact lenses that your doctor says need to be cleaned every night, following these instructions is an important part of preventing problems.
Yet life happens. If you forget to remove your contact lenses before bed, you should remove them as soon as you wake up, Beeran Meghpara, MD, eye surgeon at Wills Eye Hospital, tells SELF. If they seem a bit stuck in there (and they probably will), rinse your eyes well with sterile contact solution, close them, and rub your eyelids very gently before trying again, says Dr. Meghpara.
Once your contact lenses are out, it’s a good idea to wear your glasses for a few hours afterwards to let your eyes breathe, he says. And, of course, if you have trouble removing the lenses or experience pain, light sensitivity, discharge, or swelling, call your eye doctor right away so they can remove the lenses and check for there is an infection.
5. You don’t replace your lenses as often as you should.
Each type of contact lens is different, but the AOA specifically states that you should always follow your doctor’s recommended replacement schedule. (The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates contact lenses and dictates how long you can safely wear each type of lens, so these guidelines are legit.)