True Or False: Can Contact Lenses Melt in Your Eyes?
One of the myths associated with wearing contact lenses is that they can melt in your eyes and cause blindness. But how true are these rumours? Is this a risk that you actually face if you wear contact lenses every day? In this blog, we’ve compiled the evidence to put this myth to rest.
Does Heat Affect Our Eyes?
The first thing to note is that excessive heat can affect your eyes, but not in a way that could melt your lenses. The wearer would have to be in the fire themselves, at which point they would experience life-threatening burns and injuries before the lenses would even have a chance to melt.
Even people who deal with extreme temperatures every day, such as welders, do not experience any issues with their lenses melting to their eyes, and such rumours have been debunked by professionals in the past. There have been no reported cases of people in this line or work, or similar roles, ever having suffered from their lenses melting to their eyes.
However, heat can cause other problems for your eyes, so taking precautions is important. Conjunctivitis can occur as a result of heat, increasing the likelihood of bacterial infections, along with styes, seasonal allergies and dry eyes, all of which can be exacerbated by heat and the warmer months. As a result, it’s worth paying close attention to any potential symptoms of infection so you can treat the issue quickly and prevent it from spreading.
Are Contact Lenses Affected By Heat?
Contact lenses are made from a mix of plastic polymers which could be melted if exposed directly to a high enough temperature. But staring at flames or being close to a heat source isn’t high enough for your lenses to melt in your eyes. Contact lenses undergo a number of procedures when being produced, including autoclaving which is essential for disinfecting the lens before it’s released to the general public.
As part of this procedure, the lenses are placed in boiling water, at temperatures of around 121oC. Obviously, the lenses don’t melt during this procedure, ensuring they’ll be safe on your eyes. They also undergo rigorous testing and screening to ensure they’re suitable for the market. The only consistent guidance that contact lens manufacturers and health professionals agree on is that your lenses shouldn’t come into contact with water and that you shouldn’t sleep with your lenses in.
However, being close to intense heat, like a fire, could cause the tear layer over your lens to evaporate which could lead to dry eyes. This can make it feel like your lenses are stuck to your eyes, because there’s no moisture to move the lens around with, but eye drops would be sufficient to lubricate them and get them moving once more. If you feel your lenses are drying out, it’s worth using some suitable eye drops to prevent the issue, or switching to glasses to avoid irritation.
How To Protect Your Eyes
There are risks associated with heat and contact lenses, so it’s worth taking note during the warmer weather to protect your eyes and minimise the risk of infection. Switching to daily lenses instead of monthly ones can help to reduce the risk of bacterial infections, as you can always be sure that you’re wearing a fresh, clean pair of lenses each day. However, if you want to continue with monthly lenses, it’s essential that you wash your lenses thoroughly after each wear and keep the case clean as well. Never reuse solution to wash your lenses or top up the storage container.
It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from excessive light. UV-blocking lenses can be beneficial, coupled with sunglasses, to protect your eyes from harsh UV light that can cause long-term damage to your vision. Over time, exposure to UV light can lead to photokeratitis, cataracts and even ocular cancers. So, it’s important to protect your eyes from sunlight so as to avoid this problem.
Maintaining clean hands whenever you touch your eyes, and especially when you’re taking out your lenses or putting in a new pair, will reduce the risk of bacteria being transferred to your eyes. Staying hydrated is also important, as dehydration can cause your eyes to dry out, leading them to become itchy and irritated. If you’re finding that you’re suffering with dry eyes regularly, it’s worth speaking to your optician as they can recommend eye drops that are suitable with your lenses, or give you a recommendation for lenses which are more moisturising.
There are precautions you need to take when you’re wearing contact lenses, such as maintaining a thorough, regular cleaning schedule, avoiding contact between your lenses and water to minimise the risk of bacterial infections, and making sure you don’t wear your lenses for too long to give your eyes a break. This is particularly important during the summer months when the warmer temperatures can cause an increase in bacteria.
However, the likelihood of contact lenses melting to your eyes is virtually impossible, and there have been no substantiated cases where this has been recorded. So, you can rest assured that when you’re wearing your lenses, you can do so safely.