October was named Contact Lens Safety month by the non-profit Prevent Blindness, and the goal is to help providers to keep the eyes of their contact-wearing patients safe. Here are some ways you can be sure to educate your patients.
The easiest step to preventing eye infection from contact lenses: wash your hands.
Reminding patients to wash their hands before inserting and removing their contact lenses is one of the easiest ways to prevent infection (respiratory, ocular, bacterial, etc.) Take some time in your appointments this month to remind your patients about proper hand hygiene when handling their contact lenses. Encourage them to wash their hands for at least 2 minutes, with soap, and dry their hands on a fresh paper towel. Remind them that their hands should be dry before touching their lenses or their eyes.
Educate them on prescription lenses.
Remind your patients that even cosmetic lenses should be fitted by a professional. Buying lenses over the counter can be incredibly dangerous and has almost led to the loss of eyesight in countless teens and young adults. Encourage patients interested in getting contacts to schedule an appointment and a fitting with you, instead of going it alone.
Remind your patients about proper lens disinfection practices.
This includes reminding them not to reuse solutions, educating them on proper disinfection practices for contact lens cases, and encouraging them to replace their contact lens cases regularly. You can ask your patients to demonstrate their disinfection process by removing their lenses, rinsing with the disinfecting solution, and gently rubbing the lens to remove any aggregates.
Don’t let your patients wear expired lenses.
Extended-wear lenses already carry a higher risk of infection, but they may be the preference of some of your patients. Remind them to adhere to the published lifespan of the lens. Encourage them to set a reminder on their calendar to let them know when to change lenses, and have your staff set their own reminder to give the patient a call when they need their next lens prescription appointment.
Encourage them to minimize lens exposure to water.
Include in your lens education to avoid contact lens exposure to water, including avoiding swimming and showering with their lenses in. Water is a home for nasty bugs and bacteria that can cause infection in your patients. Reminding them that avoiding exposure to water is part of keeping their eyes safe.
What are some things to let your patients know they should call you about?
Give your patients a shortlist of things they should keep an eye out for in the case of a lens-related infection. Things like unexplained eye pain, redness or irritation of their eyes, and vision changes are red flags they need to come in for an appointment as soon as possible. Reminding patients of these signs of infection will empower them to monitor their own eye health and reach out when they need your guidance.
These are great ways to think about incorporating Contact Lens Safety Month into your practice this October. For all your lens needs, Allentown Optical and take a look at our services. We can help you meet the needs of all your patients, no matter what kind of optical care and lenses they choose.