Ask any contact lens wearer what frustrates them about preparing for Christmas parties and they'll probably tell you the same thing; lenses, lenses, lenses. Wear them for too long and your eyes can feel dry. Stay overnight at the venue and you'd better have remembered to pack a spare pair. Accidentally go out without cleaning solution or a storage case and you're weighing up some pretty uncomfortable options; re-wear or don't wear and blearily blink your way around.
As Head Optician at Vision Direct I've answered loads of questions from contact lens wearing party goers about what would happen if they stored their lenses in water, licked the lenses to clean them or all kinds of other things that it's easy to be tempted to do during the festive party season. Here are my top do's and don'ts to help you prepare for your big office do or family bash.
Do: Bring a spare pair with you everywhere
It's easy to assume that this party won't be a late one, or that you'll definitely make it back home instead of crashing on your colleague's sofa. Just in case tonight's party is the one to remember this season, always, always bring yourself a spare pair of contact lenses, and if you wear monthlies, bring cleaning solution and a sterile carry case to store them in overnight.
Don't lick your lenses to clean them
It may sound strange, especially if you don't wear lenses, but lots of patients are tempted to take out their lenses and lick them to clean them, or lick their finger and then rub the lens. This doesn't work in removing dirt and debris from your lens. It can also introduce harmful bacteria to your eyes and cause infections.
Do change your lenses if they feel dry
Everyone can wear their lenses for different lengths of time. If your eyes are dry and your lenses start to feel uncomfortable, do change or rewet them using eye drops. Don't leave your lenses in for too long - come prepared to see to your lenses if the party goes on for longer than you thought, or switch to your spare glasses if you need to let your eyes breathe; the photos have probably all been taken by this point anyway.
Don't ever wash your lenses in water
Tap water, rain water, shower water, these all carry bacteria. Don't wet your lenses under the tap or have a shower at your host's house and leave your lenses in. Bacteria stuck to a contact lens that you wear for long periods can cause infections and in some extreme cases has led to sight loss. It's not worth it.
Do take out your lenses before you go to sleep
Let's be honest here; most of us have at one point or another slept in our contact lenses. It's not ideal, because the lens can adhere to your eye and then removing it can cause you to also remove a sensitive layer of skin that protects your eye and prevents it from being damaged.
When we wear contact lenses, less oxygen is able to pass over the surface of the eye. If you sleep for several hours with your lenses in, your eyes will be screaming for oxygen by the time you wake up. That's why it is very important never to sleep in your lenses and then carry on wearing them the next day; when you wake up, apply eye drops to loosen the lenses and then immediately remove them (after washing your hands).
Contact lenses are an essential part of many a Christmas party look, especially if the person prefers wearing contacts to glasses, or if they enjoy wearing coloured contacts to add extra seasonal sparkle. That's all fine and proper, just make sure that you take care of your eyes, pay attention if they become tired or dry, and always go prepared with a fresh spare pair of lenses and some rewetting eye drops.