How Dirty Eyeglasses Can Affect Your Vision

Doing a thorough job of cleaning your eyeglasses isn't just about removing smudges from the lenses so that you can see better. You need to clean away the bacteria that contaminate the frames and lenses as well. Otherwise, you could be risking eye infections or even corneal abrasions.

How Bacteria Get On Your Eyeglasses

Bacteria and other germs are found almost anywhere. Therefore, it's easy to transfer the bacteria that get on your hands to your eyeglasses when you touch them. Think about how often you touch your glasses. You put them on, take them off, raise them on your nose, or adjust them in other ways – all opportunities for transmitting bacteria.

Types of Bacterial Infections That Can Occur

Eye infections can affect any part of the eye. Either one or both eyes can be affected. Common eye infections that are caused by bacteria include:

  • Conjunctivitis. Often referred to as pink eye, this eye infection can be due to a bacterial infection. Caused by staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria that live on your skin, you can transfer the bacteria to your eyeglasses when you touch them. Upon close contact, the bacteria can then move on to your eyes.

    Symptoms of pink eye include swollen eyelids, excessive tearing or discharge from the eyes, a burning sensation in the eyes, blurry vision, and redness in the inner eyelid or white of the eye. Doctors treat bacterial conjunctivitis with antibiotic ointments or eye drops.

  • Blepharitis. Inflammation of the eyelid sometimes is caused by a common bacterium known as staphylococcus aureus. The condition causes red, itchy, swollen, and irritated eyelids. Symptoms that affect vision include extreme sensitivity to light and blurred vision.

    While properly washing your eyelids can help control the condition, ignoring it can lead to more serious eye problems such as chronic pink eye or a corneal ulcer. Your doctor may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic to fight the bacterial infection and help relieve symptoms.

  • Keratitis. Corneal infection can occur when bacteria enters the cornea through a tear, tiny scratch, or other minor injury on this clear layer that covers the front of the eye. Symptoms of corneal infections include pain, redness, pus, swollen eyelids, and blurry or decreased vision.

    Your eye doctor will prescribe anti-bacterial eye drops to get rid of the infection. He or she also may prescribe steroid eye drops to reduce swelling. Seeing an eye doctor is essential, as when left untreated, even minor corneal infections can lead to scarring and permanent vision loss.

  • Corneal ulcers. These sores on the front of the eye can develop following severe corneal infections. Symptoms include eye pain, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and a white spot on the cornea. The treatment for corneal ulcers, which can lead to permanent vision loss, includes your doctor prescribing strong antibiotics and corticosteroid eye drops.

Cleaning Your Eyeglasses to Kill Germs

Cleaning and disinfecting your eyeglass frames and lenses help prevent the spread of bacteria that you transfer from your hands to your eyeglasses when you touch them. Therefore, when cleaning your eyeglasses, it's important to follow these steps:

  1. Wet your eyeglasses under warm, running water. Avoid wiping lenses clean when they are dry or you can scratch them.

  2. Wash both the lenses and frames with a drop of mild dish detergent or antibacterial soap.

  3. Rub each lens with your fingers, using a circular motion.

  4. Rinse the frames and lenses thoroughly with warm water to remove all soap residue and then dry with a microfiber or other soft cloth.

  5. Dampen a clean, cotton cloth with diluted rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the lenses and frames to sterilize.

  6. Dry your eyeglasses again with a soft cloth.

Washing your hands before handling your eyeglasses is extremely important as well to prevent the spread of germs from your hands to your eyeglasses. For more information, visit or a similar website.