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Fall brings a lot of fun, with Halloween bringing loads of it.

But did you know that some Halloween practices could harm your vision? Take Halloween contacts for instance. They are wildly fun with everything to monster eyes, goblin eyes, cat eyes, sci-fi or a glamour look. If properly fit by an eye care professional, they can be just the added touch you need for that perfect costume. However, some people do not realize that the FDA classifies contact lenses as a medical device that can alter cells of the eye and that damage can occur if they are not fit properly.

Infection, redness, corneal ulcers, hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the eye) and permanent blindness can occur if the proper fit is not ensured. Another concern that ICE, FTC, and FDA have are the illegal black market contacts that come into the country unchecked. Proper safety regulations are strictly adhered to by conventional contact lens companies to insure that the contact lenses are sterile and packaged properly and accurately.

Health concerns arise whenever black market, unregulated contacts come into the US market and are sold at flea markets, thrift shops, beauty shops, malls, convenient stores and the likes. These are sold without a prescribers prescription, and are illegal in the US. Buyer beware because these are the contacts that cause concern, after all, you don’t want to bargain shop on parachutes OR your eyes! There have also been reports of damage to eyes because Halloween Spook houses ask employees to share between shifts the same pair of Halloween contact lenses as they dress up for their costume.

So the take home message is, have a great time at Halloween, and enjoy the flare that decorative contacts can bring to your costume, but get them from a reputable venue and be fit by a eye care professional with a proper legal prescription. 

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ

Now that you have picked up your new pair of prescription eyeglasses, your focus becomes taking care of them. A task many disregard, it is absolutely imperative that you make sure you are following a couple simple steps to keep the quality of your vision where it is with your new spectacles.

We are all guilty of using a garment of clothing when in a rush to wipe away a pesky smudge on our glasses. This act is, unfortunately, the worst thing you can do for your lenses.

No matter how clean your clothes are, dust particles and even small bits of sand and debris cling to them. Since eyeglass lenses are not made of diamonds, these tiny little particles can do tremendous amounts of damage to your new lenses. The smallest little crumb can grind an inconspicuous scratch directly in your line of vision, which in turn can render your glasses almost useless.

Most of us know what it feels like trying to concentrate on the world in front of you when there is a little scratch distorting and distracting your vision. A majority of the time, these little scratches can be avoided by following a few simple steps.

You may have noticed when shopping in your favorite store that they sell a variety of eyeglass cleaners. You need to be careful because the sprays and wipes that you can purchase in retail stores are not necessarily approved for all types of eyeglass lens materials.

This factor makes them fall under that category of products that many eye care professions cannot recommend. Most of these liquids contain a form of acetone or other cleaning agents that are too harsh for plastic lenses. Many years ago, when all eyeglasses were actually made out of crown glass, these products would have worked just fine. Now, during a time where they have developed thinner, lighter materials like cr-39 plastic and polycarbonate, these products have proven to be too hard on the lenses.

Over time, the lenses will start to break down if exposed to the chemicals used in these sprays, causing a fogging effect. Once again, you are left with a pair of glasses that are now unable to be worn.

Now that we have gone over the two main culprits in the destruction of eyeglass lenses other than accidents, let’s focus on some tips to extend the lifetime of your glasses.

Most importantly, you should use an eyeglass case. For the large portion of patients who wear their glasses all day, it’s understandable how awkward it can be to carry a case around. But it’s nowhere near as frustrating as realizing the new pair of eyeglasses you just purchased are becoming scratched and ruined.

Also, you do not need to carry the case with you everywhere you go. Strategically leaving a case on a bedside table, in your car, or in a purse is the difference between “life or death” for your glasses.

This is also a simple way to clean your glasses that does not require you to purchase anything you probably don’t already have at home. Using lukewarm water at the sink, place a small, pea-sized dab of dish soap on your fingers. Gently rub the soap on both lenses from side to side, and then rinse with warm water. A disposable paper towel is recommended to dry the glasses.

Disposable towels work because they are just that, disposable - which guarantees they are not carrying dirt or sand from a prior use.

Taking care of your glasses today means you have them for clear vision tomorrow and into the future.

 

Article contributed by Richard Striffolino Jr.

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ

It is safe to say that many people prefer shopping online to shopping in stores for many of their needs.

With technology constantly improving and evolving, people tend to take advantage of the convenience of shopping online. Whether it’s clothing, electronics, or even food, you can easily find almost everything you need on the Internet.

Eyeglasses, unfortunately, are no different. Many online shops have been popping up in recent years, offering people that same convenience. But what they don’t tell you is that it comes at a price, and this article’s purpose is to shine a light on the negatives of shopping online for eyeglasses.

Here are some important reasons to avoid the temptation of ordering glasses online.

  1. Accuracy- Instead of saving the most important point for last, we will focus on the main reason that ordering eyeglass online is a bad idea first. Product accuracy is a huge reason that the online market has not completely taken off. Every person who needs eyeglasses needs to understand the process for how their prescription is obtained in order to truly understand why shopping online is a bad idea. It is called an eyeglass prescription for a reason. Your ophthalmologist or optometrist is prescribing your lenses as if they were prescribing any form of medication. To take that prescription and hand it over to a website that does not require licensed workers to interpret the prescription is not the wisest choice. Equally as important as the prescription itself are the pupillary distance (PD) measurement, and the optical centers. These measurements are not given at the time of the examination by the ophthalmologist or optometrist, but instead are administered by the optician at the point of sale. Not having these measurements done accurately will negatively affect the quality of vision as much as an error in the prescription.
  2. Quality- Similar to the accuracy of the lens, the quality of the product you are purchasing is affected when making the decision to purchase online. The saying “too good to be true” is the case more times than not, and this purchase is no exception. When you see enticing advertisements for pricing that seems to be too good, there is a reason. This product is often not inspected or handled by a state-licensed optician. These websites rely on mass production in order to operate. Factory workers operating machines pale in comparison to the experience you will receive in a professional office. Skilled opticians licensed to interpret and manufacture your eyeglass prescriptions and are held to a much higher standard than factory workers.
  3. Warranty- Due to their low prices, most of these websites do not include any form of product warranty or guarantee. Opticians, however, stand behind your purchase. If there are issues with adjustment or a patient not being comfortable in a specific lens or product, professional opticians are willing to work with you. This personal experience is not attainable on the web.
  4. Coordination with your doctor- With the complexity of eyeglass lenses, the ease of working in house is always a benefit worth keeping in mind. Eyeglass lenses can be very complex products. Having the benefit of being able to work directly with the doctor gives the optician the best chance to put you in the exact lenses you need. There is a substantial difference in the percentage of error between shopping online and the care you get in a private practice.
  5. Personal Experience- Probably the most important factor for many people, the personal experience you get when shopping in person is something you cannot obtain by using the Internet. Dealing with the same opticians year in and out is something patients emphasize and appreciate. Just like people tend to keep the same doctors over the years, patients like knowing that the same people will be in charge of making their glasses. Shopping online will not offer that experience.

All of these factors should be carefully weighed when making the decision to shop online. While the initial price difference could entice you at first, know that it does come at a price. Whether it be a warranty, quality, or convenience all of these are very important factors when buying glasses. People sometimes tend to discount how intricate eyeglasses are.

Purchasing eyeglasses is handled best in person by professionals who can provide you with the utmost care and quality.

 

Article contributed by Richard Striffolino Jr.

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ

Choosing a new pair of eyeglasses can be a daunting task.

Making a decision on what style glasses you will be wearing for the next year until your vision is checked again can be stressful. This is one of the many reasons opticians are here for you. In many ways, this may be the most important task for the optician, because keeping you happy motivates you to wear your glasses daily.

Most people’s reaction is to play it safe with new glasses and stick with something relatively similar to what they are currently wearing.

While not necessarily a bad decision, this isn’t something opticians try to promote. Opticians often spend time meeting with frame representatives and browsing the Internet to keep up with the ever-changing trends in the world of eyeglass frames. And it’s a great feeling to successfully “update” your image with a new set of frames. Many patients are amazed at the difference a well-fit and -styled pair of glasses makes on their overall look.

There are many simple tips and tricks to consider when starting to browse for your next pair of frames.

The goal of this article is to improve your starting point when beginning to choose frames. That way, once the optician gets involved, the process is already well under way. Keep in mind that these are guidelines and “outside the box” thinking can be good as long as it fits within the required parameters of your prescription.

The first step is successfully identifying what face shape category you seem to fit into.

This image shows the most common face-shape categories. These are a great guidelines to help decide which frames will most likely appear to fit the best.

Oval - Oval faces are considered to be the “most versatile” because most frame styles and sizes fit well on this face type. As a general rule, and especially for oval faces, avoid choosing frames that extend past the widest part of your face. Stick with moderate-sized frames.

Upside Down Triangle - To even out the proportions of this face shape, choosing semi-rimless frames is always a positive. Less attention to the bottom half of the frame helps enhance the natural curves of this face shape. Frames that stay wide at the bottom and do not taper inward will also help even out this face.

Oblong - Being longer than it is wide, this face shape enjoys having larger frames on it. A lower bridge will help shorten the nose, and solid dark colors are a positive as well.

Square - A strong jaw line is the focus of this face shape, so to work with that, choosing smaller, narrow frames is a positive. Ovals and rounds work better than squares.

Diamond - Broad cheekbones are the focal point of this face shape. Being quite rare, the best style of frames to put on these faces are in the cat eye family. Following the face’s contours, flare-top frames, semi-rimless frames, and fun colors tend to work well with this shape.

Round - Rectangular frames work best on round faces. Wide bridges help separate the eyes and bring symmetry to the face. Make sure the frames are wider than they are deep.

Triangle - Cat eye frames work exceptionally well with this face shape also. Frames that have a lot of style and accents to the upper part of the frames and temples are a plus as this brings attention to the naturally narrow forehead.

Along with shapes and styles, some believe that certain colors work best with certain faces.

All people are considered to have either cool (blue) or warm (yellow) skin tones. Some people feel customers should stick within their family of coloring. Again this is only a recommendation since you should wear what you like. This is just strictly a guideline for those struggling to choose a frame for themselves. Based on experience, eye color can make a difference as well. People with lighter eyes tend to prefer lighter frame colors, and vice versa for people with darker eyes. Also, hair color can be considered. Patients with lighter or grey hair tend to shy away from darker frames unless looking to make a statement.

At the end of the day you have to choose what is most comfortable for you. Opticians’ suggestions and educated opinions can help steer you in the right direction. There is much to consider, but always keep in mind that comfort and functionality are the priorities.

Some people believe plastic or zyl frames are more comfortable than metal or semi-rimless. Having nose pads, metal frames feel “heavy” to some. Others cannot wear plastic due to oily skin. Plastic frames may slide as the day progresses so metal may be better suited.

Don’t be overwhelmed. Follow some simple guidelines, and remember to enjoy the process. There are infinite styles and options to get you seeing well and looking great. And while you’re considering lenses for your regular lenses, don’t forget to look for sunglasses frames!

 

Article contributed by Richard Striffolino Jr.

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

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Oftentimes, contact lens wearers will skimp on their lens care because some of the solutions are costly and it seems like a good way to save some hard-earned cash. This is not a good idea.

Cutting corners can result in infections or irritations, and after one or two copays to your ophthalmologist or optometrist office you will probably spend more than what you saved in a year by cutting corners, plus your discomfort and inability to wear your contact lenses while you are being treated.

The reasons you clean your contacts is to give increased lens comfort, prolong lens oxygen permeability, and to protect your eyes from infection. The reason you have to disinfect your contact lenses is - as nasty as it may sound - your eyeball and eyelids are covered in essential bacteria that are kept in check by your body’s immune system. When you remove your contact lens at night it is covered in these essential bacteria. If you don't kill them overnight this will allow the bacteria to grow unchecked and then, instead of inserting a freshly cleaned lens, you are inserting a lens covered in more bacteria than your eye is used to and you end up getting an infection.

Let’s talk about the most widely used type of solution - the multipurpose solution. While this is often the most incorrectly used solution, multipurpose solutions are a very safe and effective disinfection method when used properly.

Many multipurpose solutions advertise themselves as “No Rub.” Just put it in the case and you are done. This is OK to do, but a quick rub with the no-rub solution in the palm of your hand and the opposite hand’s middle or ring finger provide and even better cleaning option. Just the slight roughness of your fingerprint adds a light scrubbing effect that helps improve the removal of surface debris, protein and mucous better than just letting the lens soak overnight. This rubbing of the lens is especially important for women to remove any cosmetics that are rarely removed by just soaking alone. This few seconds of extra cleaning will make your lenses stay more comfortable longer during their wearing cycle, and help to keep the pores of the lenses open, allowing more oxygen to contact your cornea to keep them healthier for your eyes.

Many name brands and store/warehouse brands of multipurpose solutions exist. All are FDA approved to do the same thing: clean/disinfect/rinse/store your contact lenses. You can't really mess them up unless you try. Remove the lenses, lightly rub them with the multipurpose solution, place your lens into a CLEAN and DRY lens case, and cover the lens with solution to disinfect it. Then let it sit for the amount of hours recommended by the manufacturer, generally between 4 to 8 hours, or overnight. Remove the lenses in the morning, rinse with the same multipurpose solution and rinse the lens case out and leave it open to air dry in an area away from your sink and toilet to prevent airborne contaminants from getting into your case as it dries.

The biggest misuse of the multipurpose solution is not changing your case’s solution nightly and just adding more solution to the case each night. We call this “topping off the case.” This is NOT safe because it will lose disinfection power since the old/used solution was busy killing the bacteria and organisms from the night before. Just adding a little fresh solution will eventually allow for the bacteria to take over and you may be adding more bacteria into your eyes than if you never disinfected the lenses to begin with.

Multipurpose solution companies oftentimes will give you a new case when you buy bigger bottles of solution. This is meant for you to START with the NEW CASE with the NEW BOTTLE of solution. Not to stash the case away and have a drawer full of new cases. There are fungi and other organisms that have been demonstrated to grow from very old lens cases so USE the new case and don't keep it for when you break the old one.

There are many different multipurpose solutions on the market. They aren't cheap and it is tempting to purchase “what is on sale” to save a few dollars. If it does the same thing as the expensive one, then why bother spending the extra? But remember, your contacts are like little sponges that soak up your lens solution. The lens companies don't care if brand A’s solution is compatible with brand B’s or C’s. So over time you can develop a sensitivity to one particular brand of solution, or mixing solutions with the same lens can cause a chemical reaction that occurs because the solutions are not compatible. If you are using the same brand regularly and start having issues your doctor may recommend a solution change to another company that you haven't tried and this may potentially solve your problem. But if you have used several different ones in a few weeks prior to your visit it makes it much harder to determine the cause of your irritation.

The generic/store brands are fine products but a grocery store or discount chain doesn’t have a factory that makes their solution for them; they purchase it from a larger supplier. These third-party suppliers can alter their recipe for their multipurpose lens solution and you as the consumer never know. You could just start finding your contacts are not as comfortable as they used to be and it is actually the unknown generic solution change that is bothering you. Brand name companies like Bausch and Lomb, AMO, and Alcon will rarely make product changes without making consumers aware that they've reformulated the product so if something changes with the reformulated product you have a better chance of knowing it than with a generic solution manufacturer.

Finally, there is a product called saline solution. Saline is extremely inexpensive, generally half to a third the price of multipurpose solutions. This is a product made by many different companies and was the first lens solution ever used. Saline solution was initially used in a heat disinfection system where the lenses were boiled nightly. The boiling of the lens provided the disinfection, not the saline solution. The solution was to just to prevent the lens from drying out while you cooked it. You should NEVER use saline solution as a replacement for multipurpose solution. Saline solution is NOT a disinfectant for your lenses. It doesn’t contain an agent that will prevent bacteria and organisms from growing in the case overnight and potentially can set you up for infections. However, it’s totally acceptable if you want to rinse your lenses in the morning with saline prior to inserting them after they were disinfected with your multipurpose.

Oftentimes, a practitioner will recommend a certain type of solution to help with things like dryness, environmental allergy-sensitive patients, or patients who are allergic to multipurpose solutions. I always recommend to check with your practitioner before making any changes to your lens care solution or lens care routine. The best advice for saving money on your preferred solution is buy extra when it is on sale, buy in bulk, and buy what is most comfortable in a multipurpose solution for you. Then stick with it and use it correctly for many years of happy lens wear.

More middle-aged and older adults are wearing soft contacts than ever.

And one of the biggest reasons they decrease or stop wearing contacts is the difficulty they face reading with their contacts after presbyopia begins to set in around the early 40’s.

Presbyopia is the diminished ability of the natural lens in our eyes to focus up close on near objects. It begins with the occasional medicine bottle being a struggle to read to eventually even having a meal is blurred. As I am going through this problem myself, it is very frustrating to stare at something up close and have it be blurry regardless of what I do.

So there are three basic choices a contact lens wearer can do to aid their reading while still wearing contact lenses.

Reading Glasses

Initially, the use of an over-the-counter reader or prescription reading glass for occasional use works well for people in the early stages of presbyopia. They are worn over distance contact lenses so there is little adjustment and vision is clear near and far. However, they need to be with you, not left in the car or at work, and oftentimes people end up just wearing readers all day since it is just that much clearer.

Monovision

This fitting technique can be used with any type of contact lens. The brand of lenses you are currently wearing can often be used to fit you with monovision. Your dominant eye is determined. Then the non-dominant eye prescription is adjusted to compensate to make it a reading contact lens. So once fitted you have one eye for distance and the other for reading. Yes, it sounds really crazy, but it actually works quite well. Your brain initially has to adjust to using each eye individually to obtain the sharpest vision, but once this is achieved, year-to-year adjustments can be made to the reading eye to allow comfortable distance and reading vision for many years.

Monovision fits are not always successful. Some people just cannot adjust to it regardless of motivation or desire. It seems to work best when someone has had some difficulty with reading and they are noticing more and more that they need their readers. At that point, they can appreciate the ability to read and their brain seems to adapt more readily. When I wear my contacts this is the option I have used for myself.

Multifocal Contacts

Another option is multifocal contact lenses. Most every major manufacturer of soft contact lenses has some type of disposable multifocal lens available. They do not work like multifocal glasses. They use a technique called simultaneous viewing where you are actually looking through all the powers at once.

To visualize this, imagine a vinyl record with the label in the center and the various tracks extending outward. Most of the lenses are made with the strongest reading power located in the center where the label would be, then each ring further out gradually becomes weaker until you reach your full distance power. So essentially you are looking “around” the reading part for distance then through the center for reading. It works, sort of.

Multifocal lenses work better on younger patients, say 40-50 years old, for help with reading. There is no adaptation period to these lenses like monovision. What you see is what you get. But if you have any significant amount of astigmatism or if you wear a toric contact that corrects for astigmatism, multifocal lenses are not for you. And because the reading is central in the lens, if you make it too strong for reading then you blur the distance vision too much, so oftentimes a multifocal lens wearer after age 50 faces a dilemma to either wear reading glasses to boost their reading needs or change to monovision.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while none of the options are perfect they all may present some level of relief in your quest to continue to wear contacts into middle age, retirement and beyond. But some options may better serve you at a certain point in your life or career than others. So while you happily wore contacts from your teens into your 40’s, just because you’re another year older is no reason to give them up. Talk to your ophthalmologist or optometrist to see what choices are best for you.

 

Article contributed by Eugene Schoener O.D.

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ

Here are 11 bad things that can happen if you don’t wear and care for your contact lenses properly.

1) Sleeping in your contacts. This is the No. 1 risk factor for corneal ulcers, which can lead to severe vision loss and the need for a corneal transplant. Your cornea needs oxygen from the atmosphere because it has no blood vessels. The cornea is already somewhat deprived of oxygen when you have your eyes closed all night, and adding a contact on top of that stresses the cornea out from lack of oxygen. You don’t need to see when you are sleeping. Take your contacts out!!!! I promise your dreams will still look the same.

2) Swimming in your contacts. Salt, fresh or pool water all have their individual issues with either bacteria or chemicals that can leach into your contacts. If you absolutely need to wear them to be safe in the water, then take them out as soon as you are done and clean and disinfect them.

3) Using tap water to clean contacts. Tap water is not sterile. See No. 2.

4) Using your contacts past their replacement schedule. The three main schedules now are daily, two weeks and monthly. Dailies are just that – use them one time then throw them away; they are not designed to be removed and re-used. Two-week contacts are designed to be thrown away after two weeks because they get protein buildup on them that doesn’t come off with regular cleaning. Monthly replacement contacts need to have both daily cleaning and weekly enzymatic cleaning to take the protein buildup off. Using your lenses outside of these schedules and maintenance increases the risk of infection and irritation.

5) Getting contacts from an unlicensed source. Costume shops and novelty stores sometimes illegally sell lenses. If you didn’t get the fit of the lenses checked by an eye doctor, they could cause serious damage if they don’t fit correctly.

6) Wearing contacts past their expiration date. You can’t be sure of the sterility of the contact past its expiration date. As cheap as contacts are now, don’t take the risk with an expired one.

7) Topping off your contact lens case solution instead of changing it. This is a really bad idea. Old disinfecting solution no longer kills the bacteria and can lead to resistant bacteria growing in your case and on your lenses that even fresh disinfecting solution may not kill. Throw out the solution in the case EVERY DAY!

8) Not properly washing your hands before inserting or removing contacts. It should be self-evident why this is a problem.

9) Not rubbing your contact lens when cleaning even with a “no rub” solution. Rubbing the lens helps get the bacteria off. Is the three seconds it takes to rub the lens really that hard? “No rub” should never have made it to market.

10) Sticking your contacts in your mouth to wet them. Yes people actually do this. Do you know the number of bacteria that reside in the human mouth? Don’t do it.

11) Not having a backup pair of glasses. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with contact lens wearers. In my 25 years of being an eye doctor, the people who consistently get in the biggest trouble with their contacts are the ones who sleep in them and don’t have a backup pair of glasses. So when an eye is red and irritated they keep sticking that contact lens in because it is the only way they can see. BAD IDEA. If your eye is red and irritated don’t stick the contact back in; it’s worst thing you can do!

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ

Hygiene is critical to wearing your contact lenses

Contact lenses can significantly improve your vision but it’s very important to care for them properly to avoid potentially serious infections or other problems.

Your habits, supplies, and eye doctor are all essential to keeping your eyes healthy so it’s important to follow instructions for proper care and to call us if you have concerns. 

These recommendations will help extend the life of your contact lenses and keep your eyes safe and healthy. 

Your lens insertion and removal routine

  • Before you handle contacts, wash and rinse your hands with a mild soap.
  • Make sure the soap doesn’t have perfumes, oils, or lotions. They can leave a film on your hands.
  • Dry your hands with a clean, lint-free towel before touching your contacts.
  • It’s a good idea to keep your fingernails short and smooth so you won't damage your lenses or scratch your eye when inserting or removing your contacts.
  • Lightly rubbing your contact in the palm of your hand with a few drops of solution helps remove surface build-up.
  • Rinse your lenses thoroughly with a recommended solution before soaking the contacts overnight in a multi-purpose solution that completely covers each lens.
  • Store lenses in the proper lens storage case.
  • Don't use tap water or saliva to wash or store contact lenses or lens cases.
  • If you use hair spray, use it before you put in your contacts.
  • Put on eye makeup after you put in your lenses. Take them out before you remove makeup.
  • Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement and wearing schedule prescribed.

Your supplies

  • Use doctor-recommended solution.
  • Rub and rinse your contact lens case with sterile contact lens solution. Never use water.
  • Clean the case after each use.
  • Replace your contact lens case at least once every three months. 
  • Don’t “top off” solution. Use only fresh contact lens disinfecting solution in your case. 
  • Never mix fresh solution with the old or used solution.
  • Change your contact lens solution according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Your eye doctor

  • Visit us yearly or as often as recommended.
  • Ask us if you have questions about how to care for your contacts and case or if you are having any difficulties.
  • Remove your contact lenses immediately if your eyes become irritated. Call us and let us know what’s going on.
  • Call us if you have any sudden vision loss, blurred vision that doesn’t get better, light flashes, eye pain, infection, swelling, unusual redness, or irritation. 

Wear your contacts safely

  • Some contacts need special care and products. Always use the disinfecting solution, eye drops, and enzymatic cleaners your doctor recommends. Some eye products or eye drops aren’t safe for contact wearers.
  • Saline solution and rewetting drops do not disinfect lenses.
  • Use a rewetting solution or plain saline solution to keep your eyes moist.
  • Don’t wear your contacts when you go swimming in a pool or at the beach.
  • Don't sleep in your contact lenses unless prescribed by your eye doctor.
  • Don’t clean or store your contacts in water.
  • See us for your regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.
  • If you think you’ll have trouble remembering when to change your lenses, ask for a chart to track your schedule or make one for your needs.

Be sure to call us if you have any questions about caring for your contact lenses or if you’re eyes are having problems.

It's the summer and one of the most common questions I'm asked is, “Is it safe to swim with my contact lenses to go swimming?”

The answer I give to my patients is “NO."

Do millions of people swim with their contact lenses in? The answer is “Yes, they do, but it is NOT a recommended activity.’’ There are several reasons why, ranging from comfort issues to others that are far more sinister and potentially blinding.

The first reason not to swim with contacts in is that the pH and buffering of your tears is not that of plain water, and certainly not that of ocean or pool water.

Contact lenses, especially soft ones, are designed to do best in pH and buffers of solutions that mimic your natural tear film. This pH difference is often why after you swim in a chlorinated pool your eyes tend to become red, burn or blur.

When pool water or another water source mixes with your tears, the pH rapidly changes and there is a mini-chemical reaction occurring on the surface of your eye. Now if you add a contact lens to this mix it prolongs the chemical mixing that occurs. The actual contact lens will often swell due to the pH and buffer changes that are occurring and this swelling results in blurred vision.

When a contact lens swells it often tightens its fit onto your eye, causing discomfort or even pain. This is usually temporary until the volume of tears surpasses the volume of foreign water and the tears take over and the contact lens returns to its normal thickness, but the discomfort and blurring can last several minutes.

The second reason for not wearing your contacts swimming is that you can lose your lenses under water.

Contact lenses adhere to your eyes via a principle called capillary attraction, which happens when two surfaces are held together by a thin layer of liquid.

When a contact lens is placed on your eye it is the tears that hold it there more than anything else. Now if you go into a large body of water - like a pool, ocean, etc. -there is more water outside of your eye than the little layer between the contact and your eye and your contact lens floats out.

This can result in either a dislocated contact lens under an eyelid or a lost contact lens. Since most people wear disposable lenses it may not be a big deal, but if they were the only pair of lenses you wore to the beach and your sunglasses are not prescription, you could have a difficult ride back home.

The final and most important reason not to wear contacts while swimming is infection.

There are many different types of waterborne bacteria, viruses, fungi, and microorganisms. Some may result in the typical types of conjunctivitis that is easily treated with antibiotics. But as with any infection, you will have to stop wearing your contact lenses while you are being treated.

The two most difficult types of infections to treat are fungal infections and microorganisms/protozoans, and treatment options are limited.

Fungal infections are notoriously difficult to treat and tend to require very long treatment times; these infections can lead to corneal scarring and sometimes permanently decreased vision.

The most dangerous type of infection is called Acanthamoeba. This is a protozoa commonly found in soil and fresh water. If you happen to contract Acanthamoeba the infection commonly results in a painful eye, can ultimately cause blindness, and the only course of treatment if that happens is to consider a corneal transplant.

The incidents of this infection are quite low – but you don’t want to be the person who contracts it because you swam in your contacts.

To avoid infection risks, organizations like the American Optometric Association (AOA), American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), and even the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend against swimming in any type of pool, lake, ocean or other body of water while wearing contacts.

So with all those authorities advising against swimming with contact lenses, what are you options?

First, if your vision is not too bad, you should swim without your contact lenses and wear prescription sunglasses while on the beach. Second, if your prescription is significant, they do make prescription swim goggles that can be worn while swimming. Then once you have stopped swimming, switch over to prescription sunglasses for relaxing afterwards or consider putting your contact lenses in after you have done your laps.

One bright spot on the horizon for those who absolutely MUST swim in their contact lenses is that with the ever-growing use of daily disposable contact lenses, swimming in contacts is safer than for those who wear extended wear 2-week or monthly lenses.

While there is still risk for a potentially sight-threatening infection, those who dispose of their contacts after swimming see this risk decrease dramatically.

Please use extreme caution if you need to swim in contact lenses. For avid swimmers who have high prescriptions and cannot use prescription goggles, daily disposables are a must. However, most people do just fine with not wearing contacts at all while in the water.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Jonathan Gerard

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

When soft contact lenses first came on the scene, the ocular community went wild.

People no longer had to put up with the initial discomfort of hard lenses, and a more frequent replacement schedule surely meant better overall health for the eye, right?

In many cases this was so. The first soft lenses were made of a material called HEMA, a plastic-like polymer that made the lenses very soft and comfortable. The downside to this material was that it didn’t allow very much oxygen to the cornea (significantly less than the hard lenses), which bred a different line of health risks to the eye.

As contact lens companies tried to deal with these new issues, they started to create lenses that you not only replaced more frequently, but also the materials themselves changed from HEMA to SiHy, or silicone hydrogel. The oxygen transmission problem was solved, but an interesting new phenomenon occurred.

Because these were supposed to be the “healthiest” lenses ever created, many people started to over wear their lenses, which led things, such as inflamed, red, itchy eyes; corneal ulcers; and hypoxia (lack of oxygen) from sleeping with their lenses in at night. A new solution was needed.

Thus was born the daily disposable contact lens, which is now the go-to lens recommendation of most eye care practitioners.

Daily disposables (dailies) are for one-time use, and therefore there is no risk of over wear, lack of oxygen, or any other negative effect of extended wear (2-week or monthly) contacts. While up-front costs of dailies are higher than their counterparts, there are significant savings in terms of manufacturer rebates. In addition, buying contact lens solution is no longer necessary!

While a very small minority of patient prescriptions are not yet available in dailies, the clear majority are, and it has worked wonders for patients who have failed in other contacts, especially those who have dry eyes.

Ask your eye care professional how dailies might be the right fit for you.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Jonathan Gerard

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Are you thinking about starting to wear contact lenses or switching to a different type of contact?

Wearing contacts can make a big difference in the way you see things – such as sharper details and brighter colors. And technology has made contacts more comfortable than ever.

While we look forward to discussing contact lenses and working closely with you to find the right type of lens to meet your needs, here are some things for you to think about:

Reasons to consider contact lenses

  • Contact lenses move with your eye, allow a natural field of view, have no frames to obstruct your vision and greatly reduce distortions.
  • Unlike glasses, they do not fog up or get water spots.
  • Contact lenses are excellent for sports and other physical activities.
  • Many people feel they look better in contact lenses.
  • Compared to eyeglasses, contacts may offer better, more natural sight.

Some things to remember about contact lenses

  • Compared to glasses, contact lenses require a longer initial examination and more follow-up visits to maintain eye health. Lens care also requires more time.
  • If you are going to wear your lenses successfully, you will have to clean and store them properly, adhere to lens-wearing schedules and make appointments for follow-up care.
  • If you are wearing disposable or planned replacement lenses, you will have to carefully follow the schedule for disposing the used lenses and using new ones.

Contact lens types

There are two general types of contact lenses: hard and soft.

Rigid gas-permeable (RGP):

The hard lenses most commonly used today are rigid gas-permeable lenses (RGP). They are made of materials that are designed for their optical and comfort qualities. Hard lenses hold their shape, yet allow the free flow of oxygen through the lenses to the cornea of your eye. 

RGPs provide excellent vision, have a short initial adaptation period, and are easy to care for. RGPs are comfortable to wear, have a relatively long life, and correct most vision problems.

The disadvantages are that RGPs require consistent wear to maintain how comfortable they feel, and can occasionally slip off-center of the eye.

Soft contact lenses:

Soft lenses are the choice of most contact wearers. These lenses are comfortable and come in many versions, depending on how you want to wear them.

Disposable-wear lenses are removed nightly and replaced on a daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis and are easy to get used to wearing.

Daily-wear contacts do not need to be cleaned and are great for active lifestyles but don't correct all vision problems and vision may not be as sharp as with RGP lenses. 

Extended-wear soft contacts can usually be worn up to seven days without removal. Be sure to ask us about extended-wear contacts and a possible greater risk of eye infections. 

Colored soft contacts change your eye color, the appearance of your eye, or both. They are available by prescription and should only be worn after an eye exam and fitting by an eye-care professional. Over-the-counter colored contacts are illegal in some states and pose a serious danger to your eye health.

Bifocal or multifocal

Bifocal or multifocal contact lenses are available in both soft and RPG varieties. They can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism in combination with presbyopia. Visual quality is often not as good as with single vision lenses; however, for some people the ability to correct presbyopia is worth it.

Contacts are a great fit for many patients but don't forget to be prepared

Carry a backup pair of glasses with a current prescription—just in case you have to take out your contacts. Contacts can make your eyes more light-sensitive, so don't forget to wear sunglasses with UV protection and a wide-brim hat when you’re in the sun.

Hygiene is the most critical aspect to successfully wearing contacts

When cared for properly, contact lenses can provide a comfortable and convenient way to work, play, and live the millions of people who wear them. While contact lenses are usually a safe and effective form of vision correction, they are not entirely risk-free. 

Contact lenses are medical devices, and failure to wear, clean, and store them as directed can increase the risk of eye infections. Not following your eye doctor’s directions raises the risk of developing serious infections. Your habits, supplies, and eye doctor are all essential to keeping your eyes healthy. 

We’re here to help

If you are interested in wearing contact lenses, we will provide you with a thorough eye examination and an evaluation of your suitability for contact lens wear. Contact us today for more information about contact lenses and to schedule a contact-fitting exam. We’ll discuss the best options for your visual and lifestyle needs.

 

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Mark your Calendars!!! On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible across the entire continental United States.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun, and with this one, all of North America will experience at least a partial eclipse lasting 2 to 3 hours.

A lucky few million people along a 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse when the moon completely blocks the sun for up to 2 minutes. For that 2 minutes or so it will look like nighttime along that path.

This total eclipse will make the solar corona visible, and stars and the planets may also be visible during this time.

But looking directly at the sun before it is covered is unsafe. Although there is a limited chance of eye damage if you are in the proper area during the total eclipse it is not worth the risk of retinal damage to even take a quick look at the eclipse if it is not “total”.

A large part of the country is not along the pathway where the eclipse will be total so you should not look at the sun without protection.

The only safe way to look directly at the eclipse is through special solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers.

Ordinary sunglasses, even if they are very dark and polarized, are not safe for looking at the sun. To date, four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

All the companies above have instructions printed on or packaged with their filters. You MUST follow the instructions to keep your eyes safe. Always supervise children using solar filters.

Specific instructions are found below, courtesy of NASA’s eclipse website https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety:

1. Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter - do not remove it while looking at the sun.

2. Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical devices. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer - the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.

3. A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime. An eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won't want to miss, but you must carefully follow safety procedures. Don't let the warnings scare you away from witnessing this singular spectacle! You can experience the eclipse safely, but it is vital that you protect your eyes at all times with the proper solar filters. No matter what recommended technique you use, do not stare continuously at the sun. Take breaks and give your eyes a rest! Do not use sunglasses: they don't offer your eyes sufficient protection. One excellent resource for safe solar eclipse viewing is here: http://www.nasa.gov/content/eye-safety-during-a-total-solar-eclipse.

The solar eclipse is a spectacular sight but please remember to watch it safely.

 

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided on this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Did You Know The Facts of Cataracts

Cataract Surgery is the third most performed surgery in the United States.

With over 3.1 million surgeries per year, this surgery has a very high success rate with 9 out of 10 regaining vision between 20/20 and 20/40.

The surgery begins with the doctor making a small incision into the cornea. Next the surgeon may remove the lens as one piece or use an ultrasound, laser or surgical solution to break the lens into pieces and remove it.

The posterior capsule, the membrane at the back of the lens is left in place so an intraocular lens can be inserted.

Occasionally the entire lens, including the membrane, will be removed to ensure the membrane won't become cloudy over time and interfere with vision. However if the membrane is removed, a replacement lens can not be inserted. In this case corrective lenses must be worn to restore vision.

 

EYEiQ Digital Marketing PlatformThe content of this video and blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ

Age-related Macular Degeneration or AMD is a disease that causes a slow and painless loss of central vision. Central vision is what you use when you look straight at an object; it allows you to see fine detail needed when reading or driving.

On the inside of the eye is the retina, which contains over 120 million light sensitive cells or photoreceptors. The largest concentration of photoreceptors is in the macula, located in the center of the retina .

Directly behind the photoreceptors is the pigment layer, and behind that is the choroid, containing the blood supply to the retina.

Macular Degeneration occurs in two forms: dry and wet.

In the dry form, cellular debris called drusen accumulates between the retina and the choroid; and the retina can separate. The risk is considerably higher when the drusen are large and numerous, which can disturb the pigmented cell layer under the macula.

At the onset, most patients with the dry form have good vision. But over time, as the disease progresses, colors appear less bright and print may appear blurry or distorted. A dark area or empty area can appear in the center of vision. In about 10% of patients with the dry form, the disease progresses to the more serious wet form.

In the neovascular, or wet form, damage to the macula can occur rapidly. Proteins in the eye cause abnormal blood vessels to spring up from the choroid behind the retina. As the blood vessels grow, they can leak blood and fluids that kill the photoreceptors, causing permanent blind spots. Eventually the retina can also become detached.

Patients may see a dark spot in the center of their vision field. Straight line objects, like doorways may appear wavy, as the retinal structure is distorted.

Macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in individuals over the age of fifty. About 1.8 million US residents currently have advanced age-related macular degeneration, so it's important to have your eyes examined regularly by your eye care professional.

 

EYEiQThe content of this video and blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of EYEiQ.

The lens is located directly behind the iris, which is the colored part of the eye that forms the pupil. Light passes through your cornea, through the pupil and finally through the lens, where it is focused on the retina at the back of the eye. As you age, your lens can become cloudy, this cloudiness is called a cataract.

A cataract is when a chemical change in the eye causes a normally clear lens to become completely or partially clouded. This cloudiness prevents light from bending properly and causes it to scatter within the eye. This can result in blurred vision, double vision, faded colors and poor night vision. The exact cause of the change is unknown and could be attributed to age, heredity, injury, disease, or diet. Excessive sunlight exposure, cigarette smoke and certain medications can also be risk factors for the onset of cataracts.

There are three major types of cataracts - depending on where they form within the lens. The first type of cataract is called cortical spoking. It occurs when small spokes begin to develop around the edge of the lens. The spokes gradually grow towards the center of the lens and blur vision.

The second type is called nuclear sclerosis and is characterized by a hardening and yellowing of the lens. The hardening occurs gradually and begins at the center of the lens, limiting the ability to focus.

The third major type of cataract is posterior subcapsular. This occurs when cells from the front of the lens, migrate towards the back of the lens and clump together. These clumps increase in size and number over time, causing cloudiness and blurred vision.

A mild cataract can be treated by a change in your prescription and should be monitored by your eyecare provider. However, if the cataract develops to the point that it affects your daily activities, surgery may be recommended.

Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve. The disease causes optic nerve damage, which leads to partial or total vision loss. These two types of glaucoma both stem from a problem in the angle between the cornea and iris of the eye. They are called Narrow Angle and Closed Angle Glaucoma.

Narrow Angle glaucoma can develop either quickly or slowly and usually occurs in people with farsightedness. It occurs when the angle narrows causing the aqueous fluid to build up. This narrowing is caused by a bowing of the iris. Narrow Angle glaucoma can only be detected through routine eye examinations. It can cause vision loss and can also lead to an emergency condition called closed angle glaucoma.

Closed angle glaucoma, also called angle closure glaucoma, develops quickly and is a medical emergency. It occurs when the iris bows forward so much that the angle is completely closed. That means that no aqueous fluid can escape, which causes the pressure to build up rapidly. There are many symptoms associated with closed angle glaucoma such as headaches, severe pain, vision loss, redness and nausea. As stated earlier, this is a medical emergency and if not treated immediately can cause severe damage to the optic nerve.

Routine eye examinations are important to detect and monitor glaucoma early. Speak with your eye care provider if you are at risk for glaucoma.

Glaucoma, often referred to as “the silent thief of sight”, can occur with no warning signs, pain or symptoms. It affects 3 million people in the United States and has caused blindness in over 120,000 people. Glaucoma cannot be cured, but if detected early can be managed to limit its effects.

Glaucoma usually occurs when there is an increase of pressure within your eye, but can occur with normal eye pressure as well. This pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, which is the weakest part of your eye, leading to decreased peripheral vision and possibly blindness.

Your eye is divided into two chambers, the anterior chamber at the front of the eye, and the posterior chamber at the back. A fluid, called the aqueous humor, is produced by the cilliary body and circulates between the two chambers to clean and nourish your eye. Once it reaches the edge of your iris it leaves the eye through an opening called the trabecular meshwork.

With glaucoma, more fluid is produced than can be removed, which leads to an increase in pressure in the anterior chamber. Eventually the pressure throughout your eye increases, exerting force on the neural fibers of your optic nerve. Over time this causes damage to the optic nerve, which leads to partial or total vision loss.

There are a number of risk factors for glaucoma including age, ethnicity, family history, and certain medical disorders such as diabetes. If you are at a higher risk for glaucoma be sure and consult with your eye care provider regularly to increase your chance of early detection.

A refractive error occurs when light is not focused properly on the retina at the back of the eye.

The curved surface of the eyeball bends light, much like a magnifying glass. This is called refraction. As the light is refracted it should focus on the retina, which lines the back surface of the eye.

Light enters your eye through two curved surfaces. First it passes through the cornea where most of the focusing occurs. Next, the lens, slightly adjusts the light to focus on the retina.

If the light focuses ahead of the retina, the eye is nearsighted or myopic. If the light focuses behind the retina, it is farsighted, or hyperopic. Astigmatism can result when the eye is unevenly rounded. Imperfections of the cornea or lens can also cause Astigmatism.

Glasses and contact lenses are made to bend light at a precise angle to offset the error that occurs in your eye. Surgery and corneal molding may also be options for the correction of refractive errors.

Please consult your eye care professional to discuss the solution that is best for you.

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