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Why you should stop wearing contact lenses when you have an eye infection
Medically reviewed by Tina Patel on 24 January 2023
Eye infections aren’t usually directly caused when wearing contact lenses in the correct way, rather, they develop as a result of poor hygiene or misuse.
This also means that they can be easily avoided by practicing good hygiene before applying and removing your lenses and abiding by a thorough contact lens cleaning routine.
Wearing contact lenses when you have an eye infection can aggravate the infection and cause even more pain and discomfort. That’s why, if you develop an eye infection, the first thing you should do is stop wearing contact lenses until you’ve met with your optician or GP.
What are the symptoms of an eye infection?
Typical symptoms of an eye infection include: Pain or swelling, dry eyes, itchiness, mucus discharge, light sensitivity, excessive tearing and blurred vision.
If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to visit to your GP or optician, especially if the symptoms haven’t subsided after a few days.
What are the most common eye infections?
There are a variety of eye infections caused by different microbes including bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi such as pseudomonas, adenovirus, acanthamoeba keratitis, and fusarium. Not all of these are contact lens related eye infections. Fungal keratitis, for example, is a fungal eye infection caused by the Fusarium fungi found in organic substances such as trees. However, no matter what the cause of your eye infection, you should still make sure you stop wearing contact lenses whilst you have the infection.
How long after an eye infection can I wear contacts?
If you have been prescribed antibiotic eye drops for your eye infection, then you should certainly finish the course of antibiotics before wearing contact lenses again.
Whatever you do, make sure you visit your GP or optician to ensure that the infection has cleared up before wearing your lenses.
If you wear monthly, two-weekly or yearly contact lenses and developed the infection whilst wearing these, make sure you throw away any open bottles of solutions and eye make up or mascara.
How can I prevent eye infections from contact lenses?
Eye infections can be pretty unpleasant to endure, so it makes sense to do all you can to avoid getting one. Fortunately, there are plenty of hygiene and safety tips to follow that can greatly reduce the risk of infection.
- Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses.
- Do not wear your contact lenses longer than directed by your optician.
- Remove your lenses before bed. And, if you’re wearing monthly or two weekly contact lenses, make sure to clean and disinfect your lenses and store them in contact lens solution.
- Clean out your contact lens case with fresh solution after every use, and replace your case ideally every month or at least every three months.
- If your eyes start to feel irritated or uncomfortable, you should take your contact lenses out as soon as possible to avoid worsening your condition and seek advice from a professional.
Quick links:Do I need an eye test?
How to look after your contact lenses
A guide to eye infections