More than 3.7m million people in the UK are contact lens wearers but how many of us know how to take care of them properly?

According to St Paul’s Eye Unit at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital, a large number of people don’t realise how severe the consequences of failing to look after their lenses can be and they seeing a significant number of patients suffering from  bacterial infection on a daily basis.

Keratitis is a condition in which the cornea (the front of the eye) becomes inflamed and painful. Bacterial keratitis in contact lens wearers can occur as a result of poor hygiene, inadequate care of lenses or simply by contact lenses coming into contact with water. Scratches on contact lenses can scrape the cornea and trapped dirt underneath the lens or wearing lenses for an extended period of time can all make people more susceptible to infection.

According to St Paul’s staff, the vast majority of patients with keratitis are contact lens users who have simply not taken adequate steps to ensure their contact lenses are clean.

We asked the medical team for some top tips on contact lens care to help you prevent avoidable infection.

  • Visit your optician every six months for a check-up to ensure your lenses fit properly and that there are no underlying problems with your eye health.
  • Contact lenses need to be cleaned and disinfected between uses. Never use water to rinse lenses. Always use the saline solution recommended by your optician.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, and dry your hands on a clean towel before touching your contact lenses.
  • Don’t sleep in your contact lenses unless they are specifically designed for extended wear.
  • Don’t wear your lenses for longer periods than advised by your optician and never beyond the expiry date.
  • If you develop any redness, pain or deterioration of vision, remove the lenses and do not wear them until you have sought medical advice.
  • Don’t shower or swim whilst wearing contact lenses
  • Daily contact lenses are designed to be disposed of each day, don’t try and save pennies by re-using them and risking infection
  • Make sure you keep your contact lens storage case clean and replace it regularly
  • Do not wear your lenses if you are unwell.