Fungal Growth and Contact Lenses: How to Keep Your Lenses Sterile

Maintaining your contact lenses properly is critical to keeping your eyes healthy and your contacts in good condition. Here are a few strategies for avoiding the dangers of contaminated contact lenses. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

First-time contact lens wearers are typically fastidious with their contact lens care, but as they grow used to wearing lenses without any discomfort or other problems, they may get slightly more lax about their sterilization routines. This failure to adhere to proper maintenance guidelines can put your vision at significant risk.

Proper contact lens care includes:

  • Washing hands thoroughly – at least 20 seconds – with antibacterial soap before handling contacts.
  • Cleaning one lens at a time with the clinician-recommended solution by gently rubbing the lens with the solution in the palm of your hand.
  • Rinsing the lenses thoroughly for the recommended length of time.
  • Always using fresh solution when storing your lenses; do not “top off” solution.
  • Using a protein remover if your optometrist recommends it.

Fungus is a particularly insidious problem for contact lens wearers. Fungal growth can easily occur in moist and warm environments, which is why many home bathrooms are particularly susceptible to fungus. Moreover, fungus feeds on plastics – the material used in contact lens cases. Proper disinfecting and maintenance dramatically reduces the likelihood that you’ll experience fungal contamination in your contact lenses, but even proper maintenance still isn’t enough in certain rare conditions.

According to a study published in 2015 by researchers for the Eye & Contact Lens Association, there had been incidences of contact lenses – even those that had been properly maintained – being contaminated by fungus at a far higher rate than researchers anticipated. Approximately 7 percent of the samples collected had evidence of fungal growth that could have potentially caused eye infections. This may have been due to several factors, including:

  • Ineffective disinfection solution (hydrogen peroxide-based solutions were determined to be less effective against fungal contamination than multipurpose solutions).
  • Living in a warm and moist climate where fungus flourishes easily.
  • Failing to replace the contact lens case, although the lenses themselves were replaced.

If you wear contact lenses, make sure you use optometrist-recommended cleaning solutions, replace your contact lens case every few months, and if you live in a warm and moist environment, consider investing in a home dehumidifier to keep fungus and other potentially hazardous microbes at bay.

If you are considering switching to contact lenses and live in the South Florida area, please visit the OptiExpress eye care center in Cape Coral or Ft. Myers for a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has been one of Ft. Myers’s most respected optometrists for more than twenty years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.