Many years ago, when I first read the story of how a 21-year-old girl turned blind because her contact lenses melted in her eyes at a barbeque party, I was worried because I was a regular user of contact lenses—I had them in my eyes even while cooking! One of my online friends had forwarded the warning message to me through email.
For days, I did not dare to wear my contact lenses while cooking. Naturally, I did not want them to melt in my eyes! Much later, I discovered that it was an urban myth. The warning message, which has been circulating from 2002, hasn’t stopped making the rounds. I received it again on Nov 24, 2015, perhaps for the umpteenth time—this time on Whatsapp.
The message I have posted above exists in several versions. Down the years, anxious users of social networking services have read stories of how melting contact lenses forever blinded electric workers, chemistry students, young men and women at barbeque parties, and so on. It is the same story…and the same message…“Do not wear contact lenses where overheating and flames are concerned…or while cooking!” Scary indeed for users of contact lenses!
But the simple truth is that barbeque heat or cooking heat does not melt contact lenses. Hot surroundings just do not have any effect on those tiny things in your eyes.
According to an article published in 2012 by Mulamoottil Eye Hospital and Research Center in Kerala, South India, contact lenses are autoclaved up to 121 degree C to sterilize them. Dirty contact lenses are put in boiling water to re-sterilize them.
Whenever you wear your contact lenses, they get covered by a film of tears. Barbeque heat is incapable of melting contact lenses simply because heat intense enough to burn the skin around your eyes and your eyelids does not have any effect on your contact lenses. Your contact lenses are made of plastic polymers that will melt only when exposed to extraordinarily intense heat—ordinary heat just cannot melt them.
So, you can go ahead and wear them while cooking your favorite dish.