Contact Lens Safety

People who need corrected vision often wear glasses and/or contact lenses. But, for more than 125 million people worldwide, the most popular vision aid is contact lenses. Contact lenses go virtually unnoticed, while glasses can sometimes be an unappealing appendage on the face. Many people with vision impairments can benefit from contact lenses. Some impairments may include: hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), astigmatism (shape of the cornea), and presbyopia (inability to see up close). Certain contact lens safety and maintenance must be taken to ensure eye and vision health.

Contact lenses are a disc-shaped lens placed directly over the cornea of the eye for vision correction. Cosmetic uses for contact lenses include, for example, changing the color of the eye from brown to blue. Therapeutic contact lenses can be used to treat diseases such as corneal ulcers, keratitis, and neurotrophic keratoconjunctivitis. Work is now being done on contact lenses that deliver doses of medicine to the eye. Lenses are tinted a faint blue by the manufacturer to make it easier for the user to see them in solutions and cases. Some lenses may have a UV coating absorbant, which will protect the eye from the sun’s glare and decrease cornea damage.

The following are some suggestions for contact lens safety and good vision health:

Extended-Wear Lenses

According to James Saviola at the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health, extended-wear (overnight) contact lenses pose the highest safety concern. People who wear this type of lens have a ten to 15 times greater risk of infection or ulcers-which can lead to blindness. During periods of sleep when wearing rigid lenses, the cornea can swell due to the decreased production of tears. Tears are needed to supply oxygen to the cornea to maintain health. When lenses bear down on the cornea for extended lengths of time, the lack of oxygen and tear flow on the cornea can lead to infection. On the other hand, soft extended-wear lenses are more porous, allowing some tears to reach the cornea during sleep. Symptoms of infection include eye pain, redness or excessive tearing. Users of extended-wear lenses should understand the risks of this type of lens.

Use of Cosmetics

Contact lens safety measures should be practiced when using cosmetics to avoid infection. Try to purchase non-scented, hypo-allergenic cosmetics. Never use someone else’s make-up or lend yours to anyone. Always wash cosmetic brushes in soap and water occasionally. Remember to insert lenses first, and then apply cosmetics. Frosted or glittery types of eye shadow may contain ground oyster shells and should be avoided. Don’t apply eyeliner so close to the eye that it touches the eye itself. Avoid loose face powder and keep face creams away from the eyes. Never attempt to apply cosmetics in a moving car.

Cases, Saline Solutions

Never switch the type of contact lens solution without consulting an eye care professional first. Do not expose lenses to any type of water-tap, bottled, lake or ocean. Don’t try to make a home-made saline solution from salt tablets; it could result in an infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis. Improper contact lens safety could cause this parasitic infection, which has symptoms are similar to corneal ulcers. Do not reuse or “top off” contact lens solutions in the case. Empty the case and start with fresh solution each time. Each time lenses are taken out of the case, be sure to rinse and air-dry the lenses.

Contact lenses can be a blessing for those who are involved in sports or people who don’t like glasses. However, proper contact lens safety should be practiced to ensure healthy vision. When using cosmetics, make educated purchases and apply make-up with safety in mind. Extended-wear users should keep in mind the risks of wearing these types of lenses. Always consult an eye care professional if symptoms of redness, irritation or infection occur when wearing contact lenses.

For more top tips on using contact lenses click here

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