Eye surgeon shares contact lens safety tips

Contact lenses make life easier millions of Americans with vision problems.

They're often so comfortable, we forget about them. Dr. Barry Lee, a corneal specialist and eye surgeon with Eye Consultants of Atlanta, says leaving your contacts in for days at a time is a risky mistake.

"So, probably once a week, I will see a contact lens infection," Dr. Lee says.  "And the one thing they all have in common is that they slept in their contacts."

Lee says take your lenses out before bedtime, even if they're designed for long-term wear.

"There are some that are approved by the FDA for overnight wear," Dr. Lee says.  "Don't sleep in them.  I disagree with the FDA on that one. Our biggest risk of infections in the eye are actually people that sleep in their contacts."

He recommends taking your lenses out at night and putting them in a cleaning or storage solution.

"If you're really worried about it, you can switch to a daily disposable, where you just put a new one in every day and you don't even have to clean them at all," he says.

Remember to wash and thoroughly dry your hands before handling your lenses.

Every day, dust, pollen and dander collect on and under our contacts, irritating our eyes. Wearing the lenses for too long can increase the risk of infection.

Dr. Lee says eyelid inflammation, or blepharitis, is also common in contact users.

So is a condition known as dry eye.

"So there are drops you can do that increase tear production," Lee says.  "A lot of times, you can get over-the-counter tears. There are prescription medications that can help you produce more tears."

Your contact lenses should fit so comfortably, you don't even feel them in your eyes.

Dr. Lee says if they're moving around, or don't feel right, get them checked by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

"If your eye are uncomfortable or irritated, I think taking a break is a good idea," he says.  "Usually after taking a break, they'll sort of re-set and feel better."