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 is one of 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 have heard about blue light being a concern as well. Can you talk a little bit about this and what it means for protecting your eyes?
A: Recently, the optical community has found that blue light can also cause long term damage to the eye. It has been found that overexposure to blue light over time can lead to macular degeneration. To help protect our eyes from these rays, a new coating has been found to block out this blue light. Anti-reflective or anti-glare coating could be a term that is familiar to you. Labs have found a way for these features to block the blue rays coming from our handheld devices, computers and fluorescent bulbs. This coating has several benefits and protecting our eyes from these harmful rays is one of them.
Q: Does reading my smart phone or tablet in the dark damage my eyes?
A: Reading from a tablet or smart phone in the dark is okay for your eyes, as long as this is not for a long period of time. There is good lighting from these devices, with good contrast. There is, however, blue light emitted from these devices. Blue light is a short wavelength light, with high energy that may cause damage to the structures of the eye if exposed for a long period of time. As well, studies have shown this blue light can disrupt melatonin production which is required for a healthy sleep cycle. Doctors of Optometry recommend limiting screen use 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 each day you’re starting with a fresh pair of clean lenses. This is why they are 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, they’re the healthiest option for your eyes and you don’t need to purchase contact lens solutions.
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. I’ll list 5 of some of the most common reasons that I’ll come across. The most important thing with irritated eyes and contact lens wear, is to visit your eye doctor, so they can diagnosis the issue, and try to help you feel more comfortable with wearing contact lenses. 1. Dry Eye Components: Dry Eye affects more than 20 million people in the U.S., according to one Allergan study. (Count me as one of them!) 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 components: Many people suffer from different degrees of allergies associated with contact lens wear. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC) is where 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 eye. 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.” I’ll sometimes use the analogy of comparing that strategy to changing the oil after the car breaks down. 5. Fit/Type of Contact Lens: 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. Do they have allergies, dry eye, or certain systemic conditions?
Visit your Optometrist in Meridian for an exam today.