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      Clean contacts lead to healthy eyes

      Millions of Americans require corrective lenses, and many use contact lenses. Some may not be aware of proper contact lens care. There are potential health hazards of not caring for them properly.

      Contact lenses are a common choice for those who require corrective lenses. Misusing them, however, can cause some problems, most commonly eye infection. Contact wearers are ten times more likely to have infections than non-wearers. Contacts can become cesspools of germs and bacteria.

      "Bacteria sticks to the plastic, proteins from your tears, dust, chemicals in the air...they all stick to that. All of that makes the surface of your eye more irritated. It can cause allergic reactions," says Dr. Sean Rooney, an ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Marquette.

      There are ways to limit the amount of bacteria entering into your eyes. Always wash your hands before touching your contacts, whether it's before putting them in or taking them out.

      "Only by taking your contacts out every day and either replacing them or cleaning them will you significantly lessen the risk of infection," Dr. Rooney says.

      Contact lenses also have a shelf life. Avoid using them past their recommended usage or expiration date. Sometimes the contact case can be to blame. Replace yours at least every few months.

      For healthiest eyes, clean your lenses daily, and when in doubt, throw it out. Some prefer just to avoid contacts altogether. "Since I have to wear corrective lenses all the time, I found that they were more of a hassle, especially at night when I have to take them in and out," says Margaret Pelissier, an eyeglass wearer.