Would You Soak Your Contacts in Soda?

December 23, 2011 | By | Comments (3)

According to a new study, some people have resorted to soft-drinks as a saline-stand-in—and that’s just one of many questionable practices revealed in the report.

Granted, I certainly can’t claim to be the queen of eye hygiene—confession: for years during my 20s, I slept in my contacts!—that hardly registers as a shocking contact lens hygiene habit compared to what Dwight H. Cavanagh, MD, a professor of ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas discovered. His study, reported in the December issue of Optometry and Vision, found that 98 percent of people don’t adhere to the guidelines for proper contact lens care. A few rather untidy tidbits from the study:

* Solution Misuse: Many people admit to topping off the disinfectant solution in the case rather than starting afresh

* Case Keeping: 47 percent of the people surveyed in the study said they never replace their lens case, or only do so when the eye doctor gives them a new one at the annual visit.

Another survey—from eye-care company Bausch + Lomb-—reveals that people have used beer, baby oil, Coke, petroleum jelly, lemonade, fruit juice, and butter when faced with a lack of contact lens solution. Not to mention saliva or tap water, two other oft-cited ersatz saline solutions.

While I knew at the time that  sleeping in my contacts was potentially harmful—1 in 500 people who use daily wear lenses get an infection—I never knew that swimming in lakes or showering in them was so dangerous.

According to Cavanagh, this can expose your eyes to Acanthamoeba, an organism that commonly lives in tap water and lakes. Yikes!

No more “putting in my peepers” pre-shower! What about you? Got any eye hygiene sins to confess??