If you have been wearing contact lenses for any length of time, chances are good that you may have experienced a sudden eye safety issue at one time or another. Knowing how to handle an emergency lens issue correctly may mean the difference between a nasty situation versus a minor inconvenience.

Debris in Eye
Windy weather, outdoor activities, and project work can be dangerous. It takes a split second for dirt, metal or wood to enter your eye. This is an especially hazardous situation for contact wearers since debris may become trapped under the lens.The result? A badly scratched cornea or other eye structure damage, plus possibly vision loss. Acting quickly is critical. Wash your hands and GENTLY remove the lens. Do not rub the eye. Rinse the eye using sterile saline or eye wash, or in dire emergencies, clean filtered water. Proceed immediately to the eye doctor.

Torn Lens
While today’s contacts are very durable, occasionally a too-aggressive eye rub or mishandling of your lens will cause it to tear. If the lens is in your eye, wash your hands and gently remove all of the lens pieces that you can. Leftover pieces may make your eyes water excessively, so extraction may be impossible. If that occurs, keep the eye closed and get yourself to an optometrist to deal with this eye safety issue immediately.

Ulcers and Abrasions
Sleeping with your contacts in is tempting, but not healthy. Even with overnight lenses, it is better to give your eyes a break and remove your contacts before sleeping. If you do sleep in your lenses, you may wake up to an incredibly painful corneal ulcer or abrasion, caused by your lenses shifting in the night, a random pillowcase brushing the surface of your eye, your lenses drying out too much, or a bacterial infection. The eye doctor will typically recommend eye drops and rest, plus no lens wear for a period of time.

Contact lenses are fantastic, but do come with special cautions. Knowing what to do in these eye safety crises can save you significant pain and suffering.