Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Knowledge is Power: Contact Lens 101

Contact lenses are corrective lenses worn on the cornea of the eye. There are many options for contact lenses; hard shell or soft shell, daily disposables, two-week and monthly lenses, etcetera. There are also cosmetic lenses which change the color of the iris. Contact lenses need to be prescribed by an optometrist and properly fitted by a licensed optician. But for all the convenience of contacts, the risk is often a forgotten or over-looked issue. For those who are accustomed to wearing glasses, there are many differences in the care of both the eye and the lenses that are vital to follow for the health of the eye.

Contact lens wearers MUST have their eyes examined by an optometrist annually. This is because the wear of lenses heightens the risk of trapped bacteria in the eye which can lead to infection, disease and loss of sight if untreated. Contact lenses MUST be fitted by a certified optician and a follow-up needs to be conducted every six months to ensure that your lenses are properly fitted and to catch any problems before they further develop.

Caring for your lenses is VITAL!!! Here’s a quick list of what you should know (and do):

• CLEAN your lenses. You need to rub your lenses to properly clean them. This prevents protein build-up and bacteria that will infect and damage the eye.

 • REPLACE the lenses at the appropriate times. When the lens package has been opened it will expire in the time period specified. So for disposable lenses, they need to be changed each day. Two-week lenses expire after two weeks and are no longer safe to use. Wearing your lenses for longer than the specified time will result in infections and diseases that can be easily avoided by following your lens instructions.

 • Keep in mind that not all contact lenses are UV protected which means that you still need to wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes.

 • Excessive wear of your contact lenses is not recommended. Contact lenses trap bacteria between the lens and the eye, leading to infections. Not allowing your eye to “breathe” is unhealthy and unsanitary.

• DO NOT SHOWER OR SWIM WHILE WEARING CONTACTS! If it didn’t feel good the first time, trust me it won’t get better. Water trapped in your eye will affect your sight, if not immediately than in the long run. You could lose your sight and also develop a number of diseases which can result in the loss of the eye.

 • Contact lenses dry the eyes. For those who are already pre-disposed to dry eyes (either through genetics, smoking, birth control or other hormone altering medications, etc.) contact lenses should either be avoided or used minimally to prevent macular degeneration.

All the problems that contact lenses can cause may seem frightening or overwhelming, but if you are properly taking care of and following the guidelines set by your optometrist or optician the risks are much lower. If you have questions or concerns about contact lenses, either contact your optometrist or your optician or hit up Gafas on Facebook.

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