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Cosmetics are one of the most common but least suspected sources of problems for contact lens wearers. Misuse of products and adverse reactions to ingredients used in cosmetic formulae have been responsible for lens deposits as well as eye irritation, allergy, dryness, injury and infection. Knowing which products to use, as well as how to use them, is important information for long–term, problem–free contact lens wear.

Brand Selection
Minor allergic reactions can prevent you from wearing your contact lenses. You can often avoid allergic reaction by choosing non–scented cosmetics and looking for products labeled “Hypoallergenic”, “For contact lens wearers” or “For sensitive eyes”. Known irritants are usually omitted from these formulae. However, even these formulations can cause allergies in susceptible people. Avoid cheap or unknown brands. Large, well–know cosmetic firms usually have excellent research facilities and test new products thoroughly for safety and quality.

Wash your hands with a mild soap such as glycerin bar soap before inserting or removing your lenses. Or, use a specialty soap for contact lens wearers such as AOSoap or Optisoap. Soaps containing cream, deodorant chemicals, antiseptics, or heavy fragrances should be avoided. Small amounts of these substances may be transferred from your hands to your lenses, and then to your eyes.

Swapping, borrowing or lending eye makeup or applicator brushes may lead to infection. Makeup brushes should be washed frequently or, preferably, replaced every three months. Mascara should be purchased with a brush, not as a “Refill”.

Cosmetics are usually contaminant free when purchased, but once they are opened, they can quickly become contaminated with bacteria. Always close cosmetic containers securely after use and never expose makeup to heat. Preservatives, used in cosmetics to retard bacterial growth, break down over time. Some preservatives last one month, others for 36 months. But even with the best of care, mascara and eyeliner should be replaced every three months.

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