I had a young man in earlier who was wearing a pair or Air Optix monthly replacement contact lenses, bought from an optician’s in Navan, from our prescription though.
He ran out of lenses about 1 month ago, so has been wearing this pair for two months now. To be fair the lenses looked in not too bad condition, but we cannot advise or condone wearing a medical device (which a contact lens is), for longer than it is designed, or licenced to be worn.
BUT…. he ran out of contact lens solutions also approximately 1 month ago, so he has been using — TAP WATER.
Tap water can commonly contain Acanthamoeba, which can cause devastating corneal infections – potentially sight threatening infection. Tap water does not kill bacteria, which will naturally be on the surface of the contact lenses – you need to clean the contact lenses and store them in an approved solution to kill off the the bugs which were not rubbed off. Acanthamoeba eat the “Biofilm” on the contact lens (the bacteria, mould spores, mucus and other contaminants which coat the lens during wear) so if there is no contamination on the lens there is less for an amoeba to eat. But if they get into your cornea, they will start eating the nerves in your cornea, which as you can imagine may “smart” a little. Often a “red flag” for an acanthamoeba infection is a very incredibly painful eye, with little sign that it should be so sore – it can take a while for the problems to begin to show up on examination.
Never ever ever store your contact lenses in tap water. You should not even ever allow water to get onto your contact lenses, which means thorough hand drying before handling the lenses (you did just wash your hands, didn’t you??) I gave him a new pair and told him to throw the old ones away. I also gave him some solutions to tide him over until his valuepack arrives.
This lad seems to have gotten away with it, hopefully, but I advised him (again) never to mix tap water with contact lenses. But I did advise him never to mix tap water with contact lenses when I originally fitted him, and taught him how to apply and remove them…. OK, that was a good few years ago, but just one more time…. DO NOT MIX TAP WATER AND CONTACT LENSES, AT ALL EVER!
We have a contact lens dos and don’ts on the website – it might not be a bad idea to have a quick refresher if you wear contact lenses.