Maintenance is an important part of wearing contact lenses. If reusable lenses aren’t properly maintained, deposits can build up and both obstruct vision and cause irritation or even worse, infection. So what can be done about them?
Sometimes, spots can become visible on your contact lenses, and both interfere with vision as well as cause discomfort. They are generally caused by an environmental factor, and may be due, at least in part, to improper maintenance of extended use contact lenses. Always follow the instructions given to you by your optometrist for maintenance of your contact lenses. As a general rule contact lenses should be cleaned daily using a cleaning solution or following a night time soak in hydroxide solution. Gently rub your lenses without using your nails to remove spots.
It is extremely important to remove contact lens spots or build-up, however with the right maintenance this is normally very simple to do. The reason why most optometrists take their time to explain proper contact lens care is because without removing the deposits on your lenses your eyes and vision can be affected. Deposits can cause papillary conjunctivitis, punctate keratitis, corneal inflammatory, and microbial keratitis.
Discomfort: You may experience discomfort from your lenses especially when you blink
Poor Vision: As your contacts with build-up are worn you may experience that your vision gradually reduces especially later on in the day.
Visual Inspection: At the end of the day check your lenses and you may notice spots, debris, or film on the surface of your contacts.
There are a couple different types of spots you may see on your lenses, and their color can indicate the source.
Lens calculi, also known as jelly bumps or mulberry spots, are raised bumps on the front of the lenses. They are made of lipid, protein, and calcium, and most of the time are a result of improper lens care. In addition to impacting vision, these bumps can interfere with lens positioning, as the bumps can get stuck on the upper eyelid.
Jelly bumps are more common on high water content lenses and extended use lenses. Lens Calculi is rarely seen in contacts replaced more often than once per month. Patients with dry eye, and those with high protein, fat, and alcohol intakes are more prone to this as well.
Due to the nature of these bumps, removal isn’t possible. That would result in pits on the surface of the lens. Therefore, the lenses need to be replaced.
If, however, the deposits on the lenses are small and haven’t become jelly bumps yet, they can be carefully cleaned off.
Protein deposits can be found on both hard and soft contact lenses. Protein deposits occur as lysozyme, a naturally occurring enzyme found in tears, binds to the lens surface and undergoes structural changes. These changes are called protein denaturation. Protein denaturation will depend on various factors such as the materials of the contact lens, the eyes PH, and the temperature. A protein deposit is visible as an opaque film on the lens that becomes more pronounced over time.
Dark, brown spots on the lenses are often a sign of bacteria growing on them due to improper maintenance and disinfection. Fortunately, much of the time these can be removed through careful cleaning and use of disinfectants. If left on the lens, these spots will significantly increase the chances of eye infection.
Fungal deposits are most common on high water content lenses such as soft contact lenses. Fungal deposits are usually a result of inadequate cleaning with a disinfectant or reusing peroxide based solutions for longer than recommended.
Cosmetic products, and other foreign substances, can stick to lenses and leave stains. It’s for this reason that patients are recommended to put on their lenses before putting on makeup, and to remove them before removing makeup.
Much of the time, these stains can be cleaned off through the use of sterile contact lens solution.
Contact lenses should never come in contact with water, when they do this may result in brownish-orange spots on your lenses.
There is a chance that, at some point, you will notice spots on your contact lenses. Much of the time, they can be cleaned off, but if deposits have built up enough to cause stains or build-up that can not be removed with cleaning and gentle rubbing, the lenses will need to be replaced. It is very important to properly clean, gently rub, and disinfect extended use lenses to prevent buildups that can impact your vision, or cause discomfort and infection.
If you have any additional questions, or would like to schedule an appointment for an eye exam or contact lens fitting, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.