According to a new study, certain bacterial strains can survive longer inside bottles of contact lens solution than previously thought.
Researchers looked at different strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause microbial keratitis – an inflammation and ulceration of the cornea that can cause vision loss.
The investigators tested nine strains of P. aeruginosa and compared them to P. aeruginosa strain 9027, which is the standard one used in tests by makers of contact lens disinfectant solutions.
Most of the strains were killed within 10 minutes after being placed in the contact lens solution. However, one strain, which causes more severe cases of keratitis with a longer healing time, survived in the solution for more than four hours.
“Microbial keratitis can be devastating for a patient — it is important that the risk of developing this condition is reduced in contact lens wearers by improving contact lens disinfectant solutions,” study leader Craig Winstanley said in a news release.
This recently-presented study is preliminary, and has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
How To Handle Your Contact Lenses
So, what can you do to lower your risks of eye infection? Aside from talking to you doctor about the safest type of solution for you, the American Academy of Ophthamologists recommends taking certain steps when handling contacts to help keep your eyes as healthy as possible:
- Before handling contact lenses, wash your hands with soap and water, then rinse and dry them with a lint-free towel.
- Minimize contact with water.
- Contact lenses should not be rinsed with or stored in water (tap or sterile water).
- Do not put your lenses in your mouth to wet them. Saliva is not a sterile solution.
- Do not use saline solution and re-wetting drops to disinfect lenses. Neither is an effective or approved disinfectant.
- Wear and replace contact lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your eye care professional.
- Follow the specific contact lens cleaning and storage guidelines from your eye care professional and the solution manufacturer.
- During cleaning, rub your contact lenses with your fingers, then rinse the lenses with solution before soaking them. This “rub and rinse” method is considered by some experts to be a superior method of cleaning, even if the solution you are using is a “no-rub” variety.
- Rinse the contact lens case with fresh solution — not water. Then leave the empty case open to air dry.
- Keep the contact lens case clean and replace it regularly, at least every three months. Lens cases can be a source of contamination and infection. Do not use cracked or damaged lens cases.