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Do Contact Lenses Melt in Heat? Find the Answer Here.

Nov 20,2023 | MCLEYE

Although contact lenses are a practical and well-liked option for vision correction, issues and worries frequently crop up when it comes to extreme weather conditions. This article will examine the effects of heat on contact lenses, dispel common misconceptions, and offer helpful advice for contact lens wearers in a variety of climates. Understanding how to care for your contacts is crucial for maintaining eye health, whether you're soaking up the summer sun or braving the harsh winter weather.

Can Contact Lenses Melt in Your Eye

Fact or Fiction: Can Contact Lenses Melt in Your Eye?

The myth that contact lenses can melt to your eyes and cause permanent blindness originated on social media around 2017 with a story about a young lady near a lit charcoal grill. Although no one can say for sure if this is true, it did frighten more than 125 million contact lens wearers worldwide. Although it's possible that something unrelated to the BBQ was to blame for this person's blindness, most people are now more cautious when they're around fires, whether they're cooking, at campfires, or otherwise.

What Happens if Contacts are Exposed to Heat?

If you wear contact lenses and have ever come home on a sweltering or icy day to see your brand-new box of lenses waiting for you, you might be wondering if they are still safe to use. The reassuring answer is yes.

A recent scientific study investigated the effects of hot and cold weather on contact lenses and the accompanying contact lens solution through rigorous tests involving severe temperatures and humidity. The results showed that even after exposure to extremely hot or low temperatures, contact lenses and solutions can still be used safely as long as the packaging is still in good condition.

Regarding concerns about extreme temperatures:

1. Even in extremely hot weather, contacts won't melt in your eyes whether you're inside, in a car, or on a porch.

2. Neither will your contacts become frozen in your eyes. The natural temperature of your corneas and the presence of tears keep them comfortably warm, safeguarding them from freezing.

Risks of Wearing Contact Lenses in a High Heat Environment.

Prolonged exposure to UV light, encompassing both UVA and UVB rays, has been identified through research as a primary contributor to severe eye damage. This prolonged exposure can lead to detrimental ocular conditions like cataracts, as well as damage to the cornea and conjunctival lens. 

Effects of Solar Radiation on the Eyes

How Hot and Cold Weather Affects Contact Lenses?

The comfort and performance of contact lenses can be considerably impacted by hot and cold temperatures, which can be a challenge for wearers. In hot weather, high temperatures can cause tears to evaporate more quickly, leaving the eyes dry and uncomfortable. Long-term heat exposure can also cause lens dryness and warping, which can impair vision.

On the flip side, chilly weather brings its own set of challenges. When temperatures drop, it can result in decreased tear production and thicker tears, which may ultimately result in blurred vision and discomfort. Moreover, cold and windy conditions can elevate the likelihood of foreign particles and allergens making contact with your lenses, resulting in irritation and discomfort.

Contact lenses are impacted by severe weather conditions. So, what steps can I take to address this issue?

  • Tips for Wearing Contact Lenses in Hot Weather

1. Do Wear Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from harsh sunlight and UV rays by wearing sunglasses to reduce eye strain and discomfort when wearing contact lenses in hot weather.

2. Do Keep Your Eyes Moist: Use lubricating eye drops recommended by your eye doctor to prevent dryness and irritation, which can be exacerbated by the heat.

3. Block Sweat From Your Eyes: Use a sweatband or a hat with a brim to keep sweat from dripping into your eyes, which can cause discomfort and potentially dislodge your contact lenses.

4. Do Give Your Eyes A Rest: If your eyes feel tired or dry, remove your contact lenses for a while and rest your eyes. Blink frequently to keep them moisturized.

5. Don’t Wear Your Contacts in the Water: Avoid swimming or showering with your contact lenses in, as water can introduce harmful microorganisms to your eyes and increase the risk of infection.

6. Don’t Fear the Heat: While hot weather can make your eyes feel dry, it won't harm your contact lenses if you follow proper care and hygiene practices.

Tips for Wearing Contact Lenses in Hot Weather

  • Tips for Wearing Contact Lenses in Cold Weather

1. Stock up on Eye Drops: Cold weather can lead to dry eyes, so keep lubricating eye drops on hand to relieve dryness and maintain comfort when wearing contact lenses.

2. Drink Plenty of Water: Staying hydrated is crucial in cold weather, as it helps maintain moisture in your eyes, reducing the risk of discomfort while wearing contact lenses.

3. Use a Humidifier: Adding moisture to the indoor air with a humidifier can help prevent excessive dryness, making it more comfortable to wear contact lenses in cold, dry environments.

4. Switch to Wearing Glasses: If the cold weather causes your eyes to become excessively dry and uncomfortable with contact lenses, consider wearing glasses temporarily to give your eyes a break and reduce irritation.

Tips for Wearing Contact Lenses in Cold Weather

How to Wear Contact Lenses Comfortable Year-Round?

1. Take Care of Your Lenses the Right Way: Clean and store your contact lenses according to your eye care provider's instructions to ensure they remain comfortable year-round. Proper hygiene helps prevent discomfort and infections.

2. Consider Daily Disposable Lenses: Daily disposable contact lenses are convenient and reduce the risk of buildup, making them a comfortable option for those who don't want the hassle of cleaning and storing lenses. If you use yearly contact lenses, please ensure they are kept clean and well-maintained.

3. Take a Break From Contacts: Give your eyes a rest by wearing glasses occasionally, especially if you experience dryness or discomfort. This break can help maintain comfort and eye health.

4. Don't Wear Your Contacts to Bed: Avoid sleeping in your contact lenses as it can reduce oxygen flow to your eyes, potentially causing discomfort, irritation, and an increased risk of eye infections.

5. Get Enough Sleep: Prioritize adequate sleep, as tired or strained eyes can become more uncomfortable when wearing contact lenses. Proper rest can contribute to overall eye comfort year-round. 

If you ever experience discomfort or issues with your lenses, consult your eye care provider for guidance and to ensure your eye health and lens fit are appropriate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do contact lenses melt in the sun?

A: A prevalent misconception revolves around the belief that contact lenses will melt in your eyes when exposed to peak summertime heat or extended outdoor activities under the sun. However, this notion is entirely unfounded. There are countless contact lens wearers who spend long hours in hot conditions, and none of them have ever experienced melted lenses.

Q: Can my eyes get sunburnt?

A: Indeed, the upper layers of your cornea can suffer sun damage similar to your skin. Some contact lens brands possess FDA Class 1 or Class 2 UV-blocking capabilities. However, for comprehensive protection, it's advisable to accompany these lenses with 100% UVA/UVB-protected sunglasses.

Q: Is it bad to leave delivered contacts outside in the hot or cold?

A: No, contact lenses can remain unharmed in various weather conditions when stored in unopened packaging.

Q: What do I do if my contacts freeze?

A: Contact lenses can potentially freeze when immersed in solution at temperatures around 5°F (-15°C). Nevertheless, as long as the packaging remains unopened, the solution will safeguard them from any harm. Simply allowing them to return to room temperature for a few hours will restore them to their normal condition.

Q: Can I wear contacts in extreme cold?

A: Cold temperatures do not impact your contact lenses while they are being worn. Your natural body heat will effectively maintain their warmth and comfort.

Q: Can I wear contacts in extreme heat?

A: Elevated temperatures generally do not have a significant impact on your contact lenses while you wear them. However, certain exceptions exist in environments with high heat and moisture, like saunas and spas. In such conditions, steam and perspiration could potentially create a situation where moisture gets trapped between your contact lens and your eye, increasing the risk of infection.