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Contact Lenses Foggy After Smoke Exposure? Try These 4 Hot Tips!

people roasting hotdogs on a campfire in the snow

Gathering around an open fire with your friends and family is one of the nicest ways to spend a chilly fall or winter evening outdoors. But if you wear contact lenses, that smokey fire can ruin your evening.

Contact lenses are often foggy after smoke exposure. The reason for this is simple — smoke can dry out your contact lenses.

Imagine everyone enjoying the warmth of the fire while you’re rubbing your sore eyes, looking for an escape route. It shouldn’t be this way! That’s why we have four hot tips on how to handle contact lenses that are foggy after smoke exposure.

Contact Lenses and Dry Eyes

So your eyes get a little dry when you're sitting by the fireside? No big deal, right?

Wrong! Experiencing dry eyes while wearing contact lenses can be serious and can damage your eyesight in the long run.

Common symptoms of dry eye include a stinging, scratchy sensation. You could also feel like there is something stuck in your eye. Your vision may become blurred and your eyes may tear up to try and combat the issue.

Smoke is only one potential cause. Dry eye can occur as part of the ageing process or as the result of hormonal changes. Some medication and exposure to certain environmental conditions can also cause dry eye. If left untreated, your cornea can suffer tissue damage and scarring that can lead to blindness.

Smokey contacts are uncomfortable, irritate your dry eyes, and increase the risk for eye infection. Contact lens wearers are at higher risk of developing keratitis, an infection of the cornea. Corneal ulcers and infections caused by viral, bacterial and parasitic agents are also more common in those who wear lenses. Add dry eyes to the mix and you could be in trouble!

Luckily we have a few tips to keep your eyes moist and healthy, even when you're exposed to smoke.

Top Tip #1 — Clean Those Contact Lenses

cleaning contact lenses foggy after smoke exposure

Smoke particles can stick to your contact lenses. The most important thing you can do to protect your eyes from the smoke is to clean your lenses. Immediately!

Even if your vision is clear and your eyes feel moist, you should remove your lenses after smoke exposure. Clean them with contact lens cleaning solution. Soak them overnight in a clean lens case filled with fresh solution. The next day your lenses will be disinfected and ready for use.

If you haven’t considered daily disposable lenses yet, now is the time. You can remove dailies and throw them away after smoke exposure. No cleaning required!

Some of the most popular daily disposable lenses include 1 Day Acuvue Moist and Clariti 1 Day by CooperVision. Both of these lenses provide added moisture to dry eyes, essential for all-day wear. Daily disposable lenses also come in their own single use, sterile containers. Perfect for use on the go!

Top Tip #2 — Let Your Tears Do Their Job

close-up of tear falling from woman’s eye

The first thing you want to do when your eyes feel gritty and dry is probably rub your eyes, and keep rubbing them. Unfortunately, this is the worst thing you can do.

Smoke exposure introduces tiny particles of grit into your eye. These particles can make their way under your contact lenses. Once there, they become trapped against your cornea, the delicate, transparent tissue that covers your eyes.

Rubbing your eyes can scratch your cornea. The scratches can invite bacteria into your eye that can then cause a serious infection. Worst case scenario you get an ulcer. Bacterial infections and corneal ulcers can both cause blindness if left untreated.

You can avoid this scenario by fighting your desire to rub! Our eyes are well-equipped to generate moisture and flush impurities out of the eye.

By blinking as hard and as long as you can, you can send a message to your tear glands to produce more tears. In time, these tears will dislodge the grit and push it to the corner of your eye. Keep your hands away from your eyes and let your tears do their job!

Top Tip #3 — Use Eye Drops

woman using eye drops outside

Eye drops and contact lenses are the best of friends. If you know you’ll be in a smoky environment, prepare your eyes and your lenses ahead of time.

Good quality eye drops leave a lasting coating of moisture on the surface of your eye. This liquid barrier stops impurities from sticking to the contact lens surface. It also stops particles from making their way under the lens and sticking to the surface of the eye.

Not all eye drops are equal in power and effect. It’s best to consult your eye care professional about which eye drops work best with your contact lenses. Systane Lubricating Eye Drops and ReNu Multi Plus Eye Drops are both designed for use with contact lenses. Both drops are recommended for daily and extended wear lenses and you can apply them onto the surface of the lenses.

Top Tip #4 — Take a Break from Contact Lenses

friends sitting around campfire

If you clean your lenses, blink constantly and use eye drops, but smoke still bothers you, take a break! Not from socialising with your friends around an open fire, but from your contact lenses!

Remove your contact lenses and wear glasses. This gives your eyes a chance to rest and recover.

If you try all four of these top tips and still find your eyes are dry and foggy when exposed to smoke, see your optometrist. It’s possible that your dry, foggy eyes are the result of something more serious and early detection is key.

A comprehensive eye exam will confirm you’re wearing the right prescription and can detect early eye and health issues.

Now you know how to handle contact lenses that are foggy after smoke exposure. Sit back and enjoy the warmth of the fire like everyone else!

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