Straight, No Chaser: Important Things to Know About Your Contact Lenses

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You’d likely be surprised to know how often patients are seen in emergency rooms for complications related to use of contact lenses. If you or a loved one are using contact lenses, they’re quite safe, but you must be diligent. Failure to do so can lead to some pretty significant complications.

Question: Which is better: disposable or regular contact lenses?

The development of disposable contact lenses has lessened the risk of various eye problems. This isn’t the same as saying regular lenses aren’t good or even just as good. Daily use (i.e. disposable) contacts don’t require cleaning solutions, which were commonly used for contacts in the past to increase the longevity of them. When you’re next ready for lenses, ask about silicon hydrogel lens. Evidence suggests they are even better for comfort and lower risk for eye problems.

Question: Can I wear my contact lenses when I go swimming?

You can, but you shouldn’t, according to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Swimming can cause absorption of chemicals (including chlorine) and bacteria from the water, leading to an eye infection. Additionally, contacts can adhere to the eye after swimming. This can lead to ulceration of parts of the eye (e.g. cornea).

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Question: Can I wear my contact lenses while I sleep?

You can use extended wear contacts while you sleep if this has been approved in advance by your optometrist or ophthalmologist; they can be used for up to seven days if recommended as such. Daily wear contacts must be removed prior to sleep – even a nap.

Question: What steps help prevent fungal infections caused by contact lenses?

First, you should understand your risks, which include prior eye damage or a diminished immune system. Fungal infections are a particular concern for those wearing soft contact lens with risk factors. To reduce your risk, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Be especially careful to avoid lint on your hands before handling your contacts. Avoid extending the use of your contact lens beyond the recommendations of your eye provider. Be sure to keep your lens case clean, and replace the case every 3-6 months. In the unlikely event you’re still using Bausch & Lomb ReNu ® with MoistureLoc® Multi-Purpose Solution, discard it. It’s been recalled due to an increase rate of eye fungal infections.

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Question: How do I know if my contact lenses have caused an eye infection?

Be on the lookout for redness, swelling, tearing and/or eye discharge, light sensitivity, blurred vision and pain that doesn’t improve after removal of the contacts. If you have symptoms like this, remove the contacts and get medical assistance.

Remember to pause before inserting anything in your eyes. The consequences of bad decisions can be devastating and irreversible.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

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