Health & Safety: Contact Lenses

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Health & Safety Committee Conservation Wiki
Copyright: 2013. The Health & Safety Wiki pages are a publication of the Health & Safety Committee of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.
Disclaimer: Some of the information included on this page may be out of date, particularly with regard to toxicological data and regulatory standards. Also, because new information on safety issues is continually published, resources outside of AIC should be consulted for more specific information.



Wearing contact lenses in a conservation setting should be considered with the same safety precautions as in another situation where chemicals and their vapors are present. Contact lenses should never used as eye protection. Any work needs to be evaluated to determine if eye protection is necessary from splash or vapors and then appropriate safety goggles need to be used regardless of contacts but especially if you’re wearing contacts because any eye irritation will be worsened immediately if held between lens and eye or upon trying to get the lens out of the eye. Finally, some “soft” lenses can be affected by solvents because they ad/absorb chemicals more readily than hard lenses. So contact lens wearers need to run all this by their optometrist/opthamologist for details on their particular brand.

Additional Reading


"Do contact lenses protect the eye against toxic or hazardous chemical vapors or do they selectively absorb such chemicals?" Scientific American, Health: Ask the Experts, April 27, 1998.

"Contact Lens Usage in a Chemical Environment,"Current Intelligence Bulletin 59,Department of Heath and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2005.

"Guidelines for The Use of Contact Lenses In Industrial Environments,"American Optometric Association, 1998.


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