Contact lenses, which sit on the surface of the eye and allow persons with impaired vision to see clearly, are known to lead to infections. For contact lens users, wearing them feels like second nature; I would know–I am one. Like many other contact lens users, I also use beauty products such as creams and makeup around my eyes while I have contacts in. however, according to various ophthalmologists and dermatologists, if you don’t keep a strict eye on the types of products you use, it can lead to infections.
Firstly, we have to look at the formulation of these products. According to Dr. Camille F. Cohen, an optometrist at Pearle Vision, “if certain irritants make contact with your eyes, you may be susceptible to a corneal burn or abrasion”. Contact lenses act as sponges; your susceptibility to corneal burns increases with contact wearing. Products that act as irritants to contact lens wearers include strongly fragranced products, and strong preservatives such as thimerosal and benzalkonium chloride. Additionally, products that are too oily and creamy can accidentally attach themselves to contact lenses as they are applied or as you rub your eyes, leading to discomfort and blurry vision.
So what kinds of products are actually safe for contact lens wearers. Dr. Loreta Ciraldo, a certified dermatologist recommends using peptides and fragrance free products, but finds it important to note that there is no correct answer! Not every person reacts the same way to certain ingredients, so the general rule of thumb is to immediately stop using products that are causing a reaction, even if they work for your friends. Additionally, certain products can be both dermatologist and ophthalmologist approved; if a product has this label, it’s probably a good option.
There are a few ways to minimize the risk of corneal burns and eye irritation amongst contact lens wearers. The first suggestion has to do with the contacts themselves; if possible, daily contact lenses greatly minimize the risk of corneal burns as any irritating product that has attached to the lens is thrown out after the day’s use. The lenses should also only be worn for 8-10 hours a day at maximum; your eyes need adequate oxygen in order to stay healthy! For beauty lovers, using old makeup brushes and sharing cosmetics such as mascaras is highly discouraged; this can introduce blinding bacterias, fungi and irritants to your eyes.
Overall, while contact lenses and beauty products are used aesthetically, we have to be aware of their potential risks. By being aware of irritants within products, and by using contact lenses safely, you can greatly mitigate the risk of complications as a result of contact lenses.