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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Consumers

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Contact Lens Care

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Contact lenses help people improve their vision. If you are not careful, contact lenses can cause major eye problems. It is important to keep your eyes safe. Use this page to help you talk to your eye doctor about keeping your eyes healthy and comfortable while you wear contacts.

 
African American woman holding a contact lens up to her eye
     

 

General tips
 
  • Follow your eye doctor’s directions on how to wear and clean your contacts.
  • Wash and rinse your hands before touching your lenses.
  • Use only contact lens solution to store or rinse your contacts.
  • Get your doctor’s OK before using any new or different medicines.
  • Put in your contacts before you use makeup. Take them out before removing makeup.
  • Take out your lenses and call your eye doctor right away if:

        o  Your vision changes

        o  Your eyes are red

        o  Your eyes hurt or feel itchy

        o  You have a lot of tears

 

Types of Contact Lenses
 
  • Disposable Lenses- Wear them for one day and then throw away.
  • Daily Wear Lenses- Wear them for one day. Take them out when you go to sleep or take a nap. Clean the lenses every day.
  • Extended Wear Lenses- Wear up to 30 days and then throw away. Give your eyes a rest for at least one night. Then put in a new pair.
  • Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses- Talk with your doctor to find the best cleaning, disinfecting and wearing schedule for you.  

 

Lens Solution
  • Do not “top off” the solutions in your case.
  • Throw away all of the lens solution after each use.
  • Use only the lens solutions and eye drops that your eye doctor suggests.
  • Do not use solutions longer than the recommended time after opening.
  • Replace your contact lens case every 3-6 months.

 

 

Buying Contact Lenses
 
Use these tips to stay safe when buying your lenses.
 
  • Always have an up-to-date, correct prescription from your eye doctor.
  • Make sure you have had an eye exam within the last one to two years.
  • Never buy contact lenses, including decorative lenses, from gas stations, video stores, record shops, or any other vendor not authorized by law to sell contact lenses.
  • Make sure your prescription includes:
            o Your name
            o Date of your eye exam
            o Date you received the prescription (issue date)
               and the date your prescription expires
            o Lens measurements
            o The contact lens brand name and material
            o Your doctor’s name and contact information
 

Watch out! Make sure you get what you asked for. Some online or mail-order sellers may send you a different brand. Contact lenses may look the same, but materials and shapes change by brand.

 
If you think you received the wrong lenses, contact your eye doctor. Do not accept different brands unless your doctor says it is ok.
 
 

 

Decoratve Contacts

 

You need an eye exam and prescription for decorative contact lenses.

 

 
Decorative contact lenses change the look of your eye. For example, these lenses can make your brown eyes look blue. Some people wear them for special events, parties or Halloween. People may also wear them to look like their favorite singer or character.
 
Decorative lenses can enhance your look. They can also damage your eyes if not used correctly. They can cause serious problems like infection and blindness.
 
Use these tips to keep you and your family safe.
  • Buy the lenses from an eye care doctor or from a vendor who requires that you provide a prescription.
  • Do not buy lenses from a beauty supply store, flea market, or Halloween store.
  • Follow directions for cleaning and wearing the lenses.
  • Visit your eye doctor for follow-up eye exams.
 young woman wearing blue decorative contact lenses
 

 

 Top Things to Know about Contact Lenses

 

  • Follow your eye doctor’s directions on how to wear and clean your contacts.
  • If you have a problem, take out your lenses right away and bring them with you to see your doctor.
  • Have an up-to-date, correct prescription from your eye doctor when buying contact lenses.
  • Get your doctor’s OK before using any new or different medicines.
  • Do not use solutions longer than the recommended time after opening.
  • Take out your contacts when you swim or go into a hot tub. You could risk an eye infection from the non-sterile water.
  • You also need an eye exam and prescription for decorative contact lenses.
  • Report problems to FDA’s Medwatch program.
         1-800-FDA-1088, www.fda.gov/medwatch