Q: How do allergies directly affect the eyes?
A: Chronic allergies may lead to permanent damage to the tissue of your eye and eyelids. If left untreated, it may even cause scarring of the conjunctiva, the membrane covering the inner eyelid that extends to the whites of the eyes. Ocular allergies can make contact lens wear almost impossible and are among the many causes of contact lens drop-out. Most common allergy medications will tend to dry out the eyes, and relying on nasal sprays containing corticosteroids can increase the pressure inside your eyes, causing other complications such as glaucoma.
Q: I've heard that blue light is dangerous, like UV radiation. Do I need to protect my eyes from it and, if so, how?
A: We all know about ultraviolet (UV) sun damage, but recently, the optical community has found that high-energy visible light (HEV) or "blue light" from digital screens may cause long term damage to the eye, too. Over time, exposure can increase the risk of macular degeneration, and other problems. Similar to anti-reflective and UV-protective coatings, a new lens coating has been developed to protect our eyes by blocking out blue light rays coming from our handheld devices, computers and fluorescent bulbs.
Q: Does reading my smartphone or tablet in the dark damage my eyes?
A: Reading from a tablet or smartphone in the dark is okay for your eyes, as long as it's not for a long period of time. These devices have decent lighting and good contrast. However, they give off blue light, and long-term exposure may cause damage to the structures of the eye. As well, studies have shown that blue light at night disrupts melatonin production and interferes with healthy sleep cycles. Optometrists recommend wearing blue light blocking eyewear for extended digital device use, and limiting screen time during the last hour before bedtime.
Q: What are cataracts and how can they be treated?
A: Cataracts are a clouding of the lens inside the eye. They are common with age, certain medications and medical conditions. Patients usually feel like they are looking through a dirty window, cannot see colors the way they used to or have increased difficulty with glare. Currently, the treatment is surgery to remove the cloudy lens. Stay tuned for medical advances in cataract treatment in the future!
Q: Why are one-day disposable contact lenses becoming so popular?
A: One-day lenses are discarded each evening, so that every day you start with a fresh pair of clean lenses, which is what makes them so popular with my patients. Other reasons for the shift to single-use lenses is that the cost is about the same as two-week or one-month lenses when you factor in solution and lens cases, they’re the healthiest option for your eyes, and you don’t need to use contact lens solution to rinse and store them.
Q: Can I wear contacts while I sleep?
A: Generally, we do not recommend sleeping in contact lenses on a regular or prolonged basis. The eye is a dark, warm place while you are sleeping. Bacteria thrive in dark, warm places. There are contact lenses FDA approved to sleep in, but they should always be removed and thoroughly disinfected every week.
Q: Why do my eyes feel irritated when I wear contacts?
A: There can be countless reasons why someone’s eyes may be irritated with contact lens wear. Here are 5 of the most common reasons that we come across. 1. Dry Eye: Dry eye symptoms affect more than 20 million people in the U.S., according to one Allergan study. Symptoms can include a burning sensation, excessive tearing, and redness. Some contact lenses can work better than others for dry eye patients. 2. Allergies / GPC: Many people suffer from different degrees of allergies associated with contact lens wear. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC) is when bumps develop under the lid, where the constant blinking motion over the contact lens can irritate the eyes. There are many effective strategies for contact lens wear and allergies. Daily disposable contact lenses can have tremendous benefits for contact lens wearers with seasonal allergies. 3. Lid involvement / Meibomian Gland Dysfunction / Blepharitis: Our eyelids have a complex system that properly lubricates the eyes. When one component of it gets out of whack, it can dramatically affect the comfort of contact lens wear. There can also be different types of buildup on eyelashes, that can then fall into the eyes and irritate the surface. 4. Chronic Abuse of Contact Lenses / Overwear: Many of us have heard contact lens wearers say something like, “I wear my contacts until they start to bother me.” That strategy is like changing the oil after the car breaks down. 5. Fit / Type of Contact Lenses: Whether it’s dated technology, an old school lens, or a lens that’s too loose or tight, there are many aspects of contact lens wear that can be affected by the fit and type of lens used. A person’s history is important in determining what contact lens may work best for them, including certain systemic conditions, as well as the factors mentioned above. Visit your eye doctor, so we can diagnosis the issue, and try to help you feel more comfortable with wearing contact lenses.
Visit your Optometrist in Meridian for an exam today.