Contact Lenses

6:18 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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How do you contact wearers deal with your eyes in the backcountry? I've done multiple things, but none of them ever seem satisfactory. I usually just end up putting them in without cleaning them in any way, since my hands aren't clean. That usually means my eyes hurt for the rest of the day.

What are your secrets for cleaning your hands properly before handling your lenses? Do you dump 3L of water on 'em to get all the soap off? Or just swish 'em around in your mouth a bit?

7:48 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Why aren't your hands clean? You need to be careful about using soaps that leave any kind of residue behind I've found, some contain an antibacterial that leaves a film on your skin that burns your eyes. It's best to use a biodegradable soap for camping, but I'm sure you already know that.

Do it exactly as you do at home. Works for me.

Unless you're using heat disinfection I guess.

I keep a water bottle in my tent at night, half for drinking and the last half for cleaning up in the morning. For washing my hands bio camp suds work good for me. I then rinse my lenses with saline in the usual fashion and pop them in using the mirror on my compass.

I don't have many problems with my lenses as long as I keep my lenses and hands clean.

9:43 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I usually use mild sanitizer wipes to clean my hands first, then a quick rinse with water to make sure the residue from the wipes doesn't get on my contacts and into my eyes.

10:00 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Why aren't my hands clean? Seriously? Ok, just to give you an example from the last trip, my hands aren't clean because:

I hiked all day with a sweaty trekking pole in my hand, wiping my nose and forehead with the back of my hand the whole way. I spilled cayenne powder on my hand while cooking dinner. I moved a bunch of back-poking rocks and branches from my sleeping area. I killed an evil-looking spider who was watching me unpack my bivy. I woke up in the middle of the night to pee. I woke up again to pull slugs out of my bivy. It's possible that I scratched myself a few times just to get to that next level of comfort.

Now, I know well enough to be using purel, but I think I'd rather have the dirt on my lenses than sanitizer. I haven't been carrying soap with me since I do all bag cooking now, but I guess I could start. Since I purify my water with Potable Aqua, I'm sure even that is going to sting a bit. I use a ton of water at home after the soap, otherwise I end up with stinging eyes.

*Sigh*... I just wore the glasses the whole time last trip. Maybe I should just stick with that.

10:23 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I leave my contact in. I keep a backup pare just in case and some solution, but I have never needed either.

10:27 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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No thanks, conjunctivitis is not on my gear list. Even the ones that are supposedly "extended wear" never worked for me. I still had to take them out at night.

11:42 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Two words for ya: eye surgery. The best investment i ever made.

I still managed to hike half the PCT with my contacts and it wasn't so bad. I think sand is the worst. My thing was to use a bandana a lot, it's always hanging on a belt starp or high on a shoulder strap for quick wipes.

Before i reach camp i do a big wash-up at the last water hole and make sure my bandana is clean. I can then use it to clean my hands to take the contacts off before going to bed and to put them on in the morning. I also sanitize with purell and never had a problem. I only rinse my contacts though, i never rub them as this is sure to cause major discomfort the next morning. I've done this for about 10 years without problems....

Remember when they were not disposable and you had to put those little pills every week? yerk!

11:50 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm waiting on the surgery until we see if people who already did it (that's you, franc!) go blind in 20 years. Plus, I'm broke and my eyes are still changing anyway. I do covet those who have had it.

I figure by the time I can afford it, they'll have a way to do it where I won't have to wear reading glasses at 50 like most people do now.

1:31 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I feel for ya. I don't know the last time I took my contacts out. I went walmart yesterday to re-up my contacts and they told me my perscription expired june of 08. I still have at least 1 pair I have never worn lol.

7:41 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Contacts work good enough for most things, specially the new breathable type. They become a pain in the but on long winter treks though, but at least your hands stay cleaner.

I'll let you know if i'm going blind! Wait a will i be able to type?


Just tought about something: you can keep a piece of netting from your hammock project to give your hands a good rub at the end of the day, it gets most of the dirt away. I also forgot to mention i never use soap.

7:48 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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east stingray said:

"I use a ton of water at home after the soap, otherwise I end up with stinging eyes."

Hey man, I used to have that problem too, try some different brands. Any soap that is scented, or antibacterial, or anything else added might do that. I used to use dial, no more for hand washing.

9:12 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Good point trout. I never thought of that. Maybe I can find some of that "optical hand scrub" they have at the optometrist's office.

Still, I don't know how I would use anything like that in the backcountry... because I use Potable Aqua on the water, which I'm sure I don't want in my eyes. Maybe I can use this as an excuse to buy a steri-pen... my birthday is coming up, after all.

5:52 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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There you go!

Have you tried a chlorine based water treatment?

8:19 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I wash my hands with creek water and no soap, never had a problem.

I don't know if it's super healthy but it works for me!

9:22 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I think I've been using the chlorine dioxide formula of Potable Aqua, but I'll have to dig the bottle out and check.

Franc... there are three places amoeba like to live most... your gut, your brain, and your eyes. I prefer to keep them out of all three.

10:31 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Water treatment aside I carry saline, and you can make your own once at camp but you would have to sterilize by boiling to avoid water treatment chemicals in the water if that is what irritates your eyes. Chlorine based treatment has never seemed to bother my eyes. How much are you using? Ha

12:56 p.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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I us hand sanitizer, then I clean my pointer finger (the finger I use to put my contacts in) with multi-purpose solution, then I create a little pool of multi-purpose solution in the palm of my hand, pick up the contact with my finger and put it in my eye. I've never had any problems. I also don't like wearing my contacts in my sleep.

9:06 a.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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I gave up on that hassle years ago. Went back to wearing glasses. I even sleep in them when I am out so I dont wake up blind feeling around for them.

9:15 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Before Lasix, I would just wash my hands, then use Purel, then rinse them again. I just left them overnight in contact solution.

11:58 a.m. on April 24, 2009 (EDT)
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My son has daily contacts so he only wears them for one day, then throws them away. He then just has tries to have his hands as clean as possible and handles the contacts as little as possible. He is only 11 and it is usually not to big of a problem. Sometimes he even leaves the same pair in for 2 days.

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