Get some new gear, pronto.
One of the grimiest items in your child’s bathroom may surprise you: It’s his contact lens case.
According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control, more than 85 percent of kids aged 12-17 who wear contact lenses have at least one bad habit that could lead to some pretty serious eye infections. And failing to keep that lens case clean is near the top of the list, with 41 percent admitting they don’t replace the cases as often as they should. (Other unhealthy habits include sleeping and swimming with lenses in, using water or—ick—saliva to clean them rather than contact lens solution, and using the same pair longer than the doctor recommends.)
Contact lens cases should be replaced every three months, according to the CDC’s recommendations. Even if the case is cleaned regularly (which is about as likely as your kid cleaning his room every morning!), it can still become contaminated with tiny germs that can cause infections when the lens touches the eye.
One solution is to buy a multi-pack of colorful cases so your kid can update to a clean, fresh one frequently—without a trip to the drugstore. This pastel-colored 12-pack comes out to around a dollar per case.
The other important step—keeping that new case clean—takes a little more work than just running it under the faucet or wiping it on your sleeve. To properly clean the case without adding more microscopic germs, rub and rinse with contact lens solution (never regular tap water), then wipe with a clean tissue and let air-dry face down with the caps off. Also, remind your child to always wash hands with soap and water and dry off before handling lenses or touching his eye.
The CDC estimates that adding these simple steps to your contact lens routine could drop the number of eye infections by half—and that goes for parents, too! In the same study, researchers found that the number of adults who regularly clean and replace their cases was about equal to the number of kids.
Sounds like a great opportunity to work on contact lens hygiene together to protect all those pretty eyes in the family.