Opticians are generally professionally diligent when it comes to instructing patients on the proper cleaning and wearing schedule of contact lenses. Unfortunately, I believe much more of the information that patients need to safely and effectively wear contact lenses is withheld by opticians, who for whatever reason, assume the information is known or unnecessary – both potentially dangerous assumptions.
With that in mind, I have compiled a list of more than 75 “Contact Lens Do’s and Don’ts.” The master list is divided into four separate lists: Optician Do’s, Optician Don’ts, Patient Do’s, and Patient Don’ts. Space does not allow the printing of the entire 75 items, so in the interest of brevity, I will share with you here the top ten items on all four lists. If you would like a copy of the entire list, simply request it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to send it.
Here is my list of The Top 10 Optician Do’s when it comes to the practice of contact lenses:
- Do Keep Informed of Current Developments with regard to major CL brands, materials, and cleaning solutions. Spend at least 15 minutes a month surfing the web for this purpose.
- Do Practice Good Hygiene. Wash hands between each patient encounter.
- Do Be Aware of General Contraindications for Contact Lens Wear: Inadequate tear production, exposure to harmful fumes and vapors, history of corneal infections, or under the age of nine. (Certainly there are exceptions to that last general rule of thumb regarding age.)
- Do Have a Contact Lens Liaison – an optometrist or ophthalmologist for referrals if one is not routinely on your premises.
- Do Develop a Comprehensive Patient Lens Questionnaire.
- Do Develop and Distribute Your Own List of Do’s and Don’ts for Patients. Be sure that it is given to every patient who purchases lenses from you – whether they were examined by your associate or not.
- Do Embrace the Philosophy That Contact Lenses Should Be Handled With the Same Respect as a Prescription Drug. This should be made manifest by the manner they are handled, stored and treated in front of the patient.
- Do Know and Be Able To Explain the Characteristics of All Cleaning, Rinsing, and Storage Solutions.
- Do Be Aware of All Rules and Regulations with Regard to Contact Lenses, including the details of the FCLCA (Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act).
- Do Wear Them Yourself.
Here is the list of Top Ten Optician Don’ts:
- Don’t Use the Phrases “Do You Understand?” or “Do You Have Any Questions?” during Insert & Removal instruction sessions. Remember, unless you hear your patient repeat instructions, you can never be certain that they in fact do understand.
- Don’t Exceed the Scope of Your Practice.
- Don’t Forget to Communicate the Importance of Annual Eye Examinations.
- Don’t Allow Patients to wear Contacts Who Exhibit One of the Contraindications.
- Don’t Allow People to Wear Contacts If Their Hygiene is in Question.
- Don’t Forget to Remind Patients about Red Tips on bottles of contact lens solutions. (If the tip is red don’t let it near your eye!)
- Don’t Forget to Insist Lenses be Removed Before Sleeping, if appropriate.
- Don’t Let the Patient Leave Your Dispensary without Comprehensive Instructions that have been signed and fully explained.
- Don’t Forget to Inform Patients to Remove Lenses if Anything Unusual Occurs and to immediately contact the prescribing doctor for prompt follow-up care.
- Don’t Fail to Let Patients Know that 67% of Problems with CL Wear Occur Because of Poor Hygiene.
On the list of things opticians ought to do is to develop and distribute a list of things that patients should do and not do.
With that in mind, here is the list of Top Ten Patient Do’s:
- Do Close The Cap on All Cleaning Solutions After Use, and never reuse solutions. Re-Clean and Re-Rinse lenses if stored for more than 12 hours.
- Do Empty and Rinse lens case With Fresh Saline Daily.
- Do Discard Lens Cases Every 6 Months.
- Do Use Solutions Only as Recommended by Your Eye Care Professional.
- Do Wash Hands With a Mild, Non-Perfume Soap and Dry Hands With a Lint-Free Towel Prior to Handling Lenses.
- Do Wear UV-Protective Sunglasses When Wearing Contacts. You will probably be even more light-sensitive when wearing your lenses.
- Do Follow the Wearing Guidelines as Proscribed by Your Eye Care Professional and have your eyes re-evaluated every year – even if everything seems fine.
- Do Insert Contact Lenses PRIOR to Applying Make-Up (This goes for the women too!) Remember that oil-based cosmetics potentially cause more problems than water based products.
- Do Close Your Eyes Whenever Spraying Perfume, Cologne, Hairspray, etc.
- Do Always Work With Your Right Lens First, and Never Switch lenses eye-for-eye for any reason.
And finally, a few Patient Don’ts:
- Don’t Use Fingernails, Tweezers, or Any Other Tool for Removing Lenses from their packages or containers.
- Don’t Wear CLs When Using Eye Drops or Other Ocular Medications unless instructed to do so by your Eye care Professional.
- Don’t Mix Solutions or Switch Brands (including generic) Before Consulting Your Eye Care Professional.
- Don’t Use Saliva to “Clean” or “Store” Your Contacts.
- Don’t Ever Try on Someone Else’s Contacts.
- Don’t Allow Your CLs to Get Too Hot; always store them in a cool place.
- Don’t Apply Eye Liner to the Inner Lid Area – outer lids only.
- Don’t Swim With Your Contact Lenses.
- Don’t Allow Creams, Lotions, etc. to Get On Your Contacts.
- Don’t Exceed the Wearing Schedule Given To You By Your ECP.