Can You Wash Your Face With Contact Lenses In?

Nothing is more freeing for people who wear glasses than not having to wear them while still being able to see clearly. And the natural answer to glass-free, eyesight-improved eyes for those with vision problems is to wear contact lenses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 45 million people in the U.S. are contact lens wearers, two-thirds of whom are female. Contact lenses, which are classified as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and require a prescription from an eye doctor, have the capacity to treat common vision conditions such as near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Aside from corrective lenses, some people choose to use cosmetic lenses, often known as colored eye contacts, to modify the color of their eyes.

Unlike bulky spectacles, contact lenses give the eyes a more natural appearance and feel. Because contact lenses can feel so natural, as if they are a part of us, it's easy to forget to remove them when we wash our face or take a shower. Since eye contacts can mix with the water in our eyes without irritating them, does it imply that they can also mix well with regular water? Here are some insights from experts.

You can't wash your face with contact lenses in

Contact lenses, as pointed out in a study published in the journal Materials, are primarily made of polymer or silicone-hydrogel alongside other materials. They can safely mix with preservative-free eyedrops, sterile solutions designed for lens disinfection, and natural tears. However, contact lenses should never go with regular water, be it lake water or tap water. The reason being is most tap water is not sterile and can carry germs into the eyes and cause an eye infection.

Acanthamoeba, a critical eye disease where bacteria latch onto your lenses when they come into touch with contaminated water, is a common eye infection caused by the interaction of water and contact lenses, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns. This condition can result in blindness and might require a corneal transplant. Additionally, regular water can cause soft contact lenses to take on a different shape and stick to the eye, which can result in a corneal abrasion and a serious eye infection, the CDC notes. 

Therefore, keep your contact lenses away from tap water or any non-sterile solutions. Before entering a swimming pool or a sauna, taking a shower, and washing your face, always remove your contact lenses. If your lands have been exposed to tap water, apply a lubricating eye drop to your eyes to loosen the lens and, with clean hands, gently take the lens out.

How to properly care for your contact lenses

When using contact lenses, follow strict hygienic practices and handle your lenses as instructed. Since contact lenses are medical devices, you are required to visit an eye doctor for an eye check-up and get a prescription before you can purchase them. Only an eye doctor can tell you which type of lenses and lens solutions best suit your condition and teach you proper lens handling. If you regularly wear contact lenses, consider scheduling monthly eye check-ups so your ophthalmologist can help you identify any visual problems or risks that would be better managed if discovered sooner.

Before inserting contact lenses into your eyes, always wash your hands and disinfect the lenses using sterile solutions, according to the Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs. To keep your lenses hygienic, store them in a clean lens case and replace the case every one to three months. Always soak your lenses in fresh solution, and dispose of contacts that have been worn for 30 days. To keep your eyes moist and comfortable, apply rewetting drops or preservative-free artificial tears every few hours. If you wear makeup, choose water-based, liquid foundations and avoid wearing waterproof or lash-extending mascara as they can irritate the eyes, per the American Optometric Association. If you experience any discomfort, such as irritated eyes or blurred vision, take out your lenses and visit an optometrist immediately.