College of Optometrists’ survey shows poor habits and hygiene in using contact lenses and eye drops


A survey commissioned by the College of Optometrists shows that many people using contact lenses are not using good hygiene and many of those using eye drops are applying them incorrectly. The research, conducted to highlight hygiene and compliance around eye care issues for National Eye Health Week*, also showed that almost a third (30.1 per cent) of people do not always wash their hands before inserting contact lenses.

To coincide with the launch of the survey and National Eye Health Week, the College has released a series of short explainer videos demonstrating how to manage your eye care, including videos on how to correctly administer eye drops and insert and remove contact lenses.

The survey, which examined patient’s eye care habits, revealed that only 70 per cent of respondents always washed their hands before inserting contact lenses. It also showed that almost half of all users of eye drops (47.2 per cent) have never been shown how to use them correctly. More than 50 percent miss their eye when inserting drops sometimes, or every time. More than a quarter of respondents (25.5 per cent) admitted that they always or sometimes touch the inside of their eye with the bottle tip, which may result in contamination, increased risk of eye infections and the potential to scratch the front of the person’s eye.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, Clinical Adviser for the College of Optometrists, commented: “It is so important to practise good hygiene when applying or removing anything to the eye. Washing and drying your hands thoroughly will reduce the chance of acquiring a serious and potentially sight threatening infection. We can also see that a lot of people struggle with inserting eye drops. Some people will use these for a short period of time, but others, such as those who have conditions such as dry eye or glaucoma, may use them on an on-going basis and may not receiving the full therapeutic benefit. One study found up to 9 in 10 people affected by glaucoma struggled to instil their drops correctly.** I would recommend everyone who finds eye drop instillation difficult to watch our video or speak to their optometrist or pharmacist to check their technique. It’s easy to make sure that you are taking the appropriate steps to ensure good eye hygiene, be it putting in drops or contact lenses, you can consult our video series to ensure that you are getting it right.”

The College’s ‘how to’ video series is accessible on the YouTube site and the College’s consumer-facing website LookAfterYourEyes. Members of the College can use the videos on their practice website, simply visit the College site, fill out the appropriate short form, and you will be sent the embed codes:

·         How to: apply contact lenses

·         How to: remove contact lenses

·         How to: use eye drops

·         How to: clean your spectacles