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Wearing Colored Contact Lenses This Halloween? Beware and Take Care!

Countless adults, teens and even children will be wearing colored contact lenses this Halloween, but few are aware of the risks involved. Ever wondered what those cat-eye contacts are doing to your eyes? If you got them without a prescription, beware of health complications.

Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by educating yourself and others about the dangers of wearing colored contact lenses without a prescription.

Why Can Over-The-Counter Colored Contact Lenses Cause Eye Damage?

Contact lenses made to change one’s appearance go by many names: cosmetic, theatrical, Halloween, circle, decorative, colored, or costume contact lenses. While it’s illegal to sell colored contact lenses without a prescription, authorities rarely enforce the law — which means they’re still accessible in many places.

Many people believe that wearing non-prescription color contact lenses can cause no harm. This unfortunate myth has led to many contact lens complications. For instance, when a person feels that a contact lens is “dry”, it could be because the lens is not a good fit. Ideally, the lens should follow the contour of the eye, and stay centered, with enough lens movement to allow tear exchange beneath the lens. 

Furthermore, non-medical colored contact lenses are often produced by unlicensed manufacturers that tend to use inferior plastic and toxic materials, such as lead (often used in lens coloring), which can get absorbed through the eyes into the bloodstream. These illegal lenses may also contain high levels of bacteria from unsanitary packaging, shipping, and storage conditions.

Therefore, purchasing any kind of contact lenses without a prescription or medical oversight can result in a variety of eye complications, such as corneal abrasions, eye sores, conjunctivitis, other eye infections, vision impairment and, in rare cases, even permanent vision loss. 

Even if you have perfect vision, all contact lenses, including colored contacts, require a prescription and proper fitting by an optometrist.

Contact us at Dr. Sills and Associates and make an appointment with Dr. Richard Sills to get properly examined for a contact lens prescription. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Colored Contact Lenses

  • DO make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist who will measure your eyes and properly fit you for contact lenses.  
  • DO get a valid prescription that includes the measurements, expiration date and the contact lens brand name.
  • DO purchase the decorative contact lenses from a reliable retailer (hint: they should demand a prescription.)
  • DO follow the contact lens hygiene directives (cleaning, inserting and removing lenses) provided by your eye doctor. 
  • DO make sure to undergo follow-up eye exams as directed by your eye care professional.
  • DON’T ever share contact lenses with anyone else.

So don’t let an eye infection get in the way of your fun this Halloween. Wearing decorative lenses without a valid prescription can result in serious harm to your eyes, which can haunt you long after October 31st.  

Get your comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting by an eye doctor in Fort Myers at Dr. Sills and Associates.

Progressive Dailies

progressive dailies fort myers, FL

BENEFITS

  • Crisp, clear vision for those with presbyopia

  • Brand new pair every day

  • Exclusive all day refresher with blink-activated moisture

  • No cleaning or disinfecting

  • No deposit build-up

RECOMMENDED FOR

  • Presbyopia (inability to focus on nearby objects)

  • Those dissatisfied with current multifocals (progressive) contact lenses

  • On-the-go lifestyles

  • Frequent Travelers

  • Sports

  • A great alternative to reading glasses or bi-focals

  • Extra convenience and flexibility

 

Contacts & Glasses that Enhance Performance

Every sports activity requires a different skill set for success, yet all sports share a critical need for good vision. Geraint Griffiths, a British optometrist, devised a study to determine the effects of visual acuity on sports performance. This study distributed special vision-blurring goggles to Wimbledon tennis players and UK national clay pigeon shooters. Their performance was studied while the goggles were worn. Even though the goggles only blurred their vision a bit, the marksmen and tennis players showed a 25% decrease in accomplishment. This study demonstrated clearly that vision and sports achievement are inextricably linked.

Visual clarity isn’t the only benefit provided by sports eyewear. There are a number of additional eyewear features that boost athletic performance and enhance eye safety.

Protect Your Eyes from Impact-Related Injuries

As reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, over 42,000 sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States each year. Approximately 43% of those injuries happen to children under the age of 15. The majority of these injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear, such as safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses.

Regular eyeglasses are designed for daily wear, and they aren’t resilient enough to handle the rough and tumble wear needed for sports. They also provide inadequate protection for your eyes. Contact lenses offer zero protection from sports-related eye injuries. In contrast, sports eyewear is constructed to be highly impact-resistant, thereby granting superior protection for your eyes and removing anxiety about potential eye injuries. Able to withstand the hit of a ball traveling at up to 90 miles per hour, polycarbonate lenses are about 10 times more impact-resistant than regular lenses.

Safety eyeglasses are advised for every activity that has the potential for injuries to the eye. Be aware that the following land sports run a higher risk to eyes: softball, baseball, hockey, football, basketball, handball, squash, racquetball, tennis, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse. In water, all swimming and pool sports require specialized eye gear. Paintball players should also make safety eyewear an essential part of their game.

A Barrier against UV Rays

Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be just as damaging to your eyes as other injuries. A number of eye diseases, such as ocular tumors, macular degeneration, and cataracts, have been associated with exposure to UV rays. Photokeratitis, which refers to sunburn on your eye, is another hazard. This painful condition can cause long-term corneal damage.

Dangerous UV rays are more potent at higher altitudes and also bounce off snow or outdoor water, which increases exposure. It is imperative for skiers and anyone who enjoys outdoor water sports to wear sports sunglasses or tinted goggles that block 100% of the sun’s UV rays.

Some types of contact lenses provide UV protection, yet they only cover the central part of your eye. For this reason, sunglasses that block UV rays should still be worn, preferably in a wraparound style that also covers the delicate tissues surrounding your eyes. Hats with a wide brim will upgrade your protection by further reducing facial exposure to UV rays.

Enhance Your Game with Colored Lenses

Special tinted eyewear may add a winning edge to your game. Depending upon the lighting conditions, it’s not always simple to “keep your eye on the ball”. Hunters favor shooting glasses with amber tinted lenses, which highlight the contrast of birds flying against an overcast, dim sky. Golfers tend to gain the largest benefit from green tinted lenses.

A wide range of specialized tints for specific indoor and outdoor sports are available. These lenses can improve visibility and contrast in a diversity of environments. Ask your eye doctor or optician for more information about which lenses can help raise your scores.

Don’t Let Light Get in the Way

Reflective surfaces, such as a flat body of water, a sandy beach or even light-colored pavement, can disturb your vision with glare. Polarized sunglasses are one effective way to resolve this problem.

Another glare reducer is to add and anti-glare (AG) component to your lenses. At night, sports eyewear with anti-glare will diminish lens reflections when playing under bright lights or spotlights. It’s a good idea to apply anti-glare to the back surface of sport sunglasses in order to decrease the glare that bounces into your eyesight when sunlight hits the back of your lenses.

You can control the light that enters your eye by wearing photochromic lenses. These clear lenses transition automatically into dark lenses upon exposure to UV rays. They also offer 100% UV protection, and return quickly to their former clear state when you go indoors.

Contacts Provide Comfortable and Convenient Vision

Many advantages come along with wearing contact lenses for sports, even if you normally wear eyeglasses on a daily basis:

  • Unobstructed peripheral vision
  • Natural-appearing vision, with no changes in image sizes
  • No fogging lenses
  • Non-slip when perspiring

The best contact lens choice for sports is soft one-day disposables. There’s no need to clean them and you can toss them in the garbage at the end of the day. The flexible, oxygen-permeable material of one-day soft lenses also requires very little adaptation. They can be inserted easily and worn comfortably for a full day of physical activity.

Although contact lenses offer high convenience and comfort, there are still a number of disadvantages with wearing contacts for sports. No protection against eye injury is provided and they don’t offer sufficient UV protection. For ultimate performance and safety, you need to wear quality protective eyewear or sunglasses over your lenses.

Gas Permeable (GP) Contact Lenses

Gas Permeable (GP) or Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses are an alternative to soft contact lenses that are made from a hard, oxygen permeable material. GP lenses are currently less popular than soft lenses but offer a number of advantages and are continuing to improve as research and technology advance.

GP contacts are made of a firm plastic material which allows the passage of oxygen through the lens to your cornea and the front surface of your eye – essentially allowing your eye to “breathe”. This increases comfort, health and safety during contact lens wear.

Benefits of GP or RGP Contact Lenses

Because of the strong material and the ability to diffuse oxygen, GP lenses offer a number of advantages over soft contact lenses.

Health and Hygiene Benefits:

Unlike soft lenses, GPs don’t contain water which makes them less likely to attract and breed bacteria that can cause eye infections. Further protein deposits won’t build up on the lens, keeping them cleaner and healthier.

Because they are made with a strong durable material, GP lenses won’t tear and are easy to clean and disinfect. RGPs maintain their firm shape and will not dehydrate. Further GPs last longer than soft lenses – when cared for properly, a pair can last a year or more.

Comfort

GP contact lenses are custom made for each patient based on the eye’s individual curvature, size, corneal shape. Their ability to transmit oxygen reduces eye problems such as dry eyes caused by reduced oxygen that are common in many brands of soft lenses or hard (non-GP) lenses.

GP lenses have a smaller diameter than soft contacts, meaning that they cover less of the surface of your eye. While this may take some time getting used to initially, ultimately many find that they are just as if not more comfortable than soft contacts.

Better Vision

Due to the rigid material, GPs have a smooth surface and maintain their shape, moving along with the eye to hold their place. This provides sharp and stable vision. Further they do not dehydrate, which is often a cause for reduced vision with other lenses.

Cost

Because they last so long, GPs are much more cost effective than soft lenses, especially disposable lenses that require a constant supply. Because they are made to order, there is an initial cost investment and they will take up to a week to manufacture if you do need a replacement pair.

GPs for Astigmatism

GP lenses are ideal for individuals with astigmatism that may have been told that they cannot wear soft contacts. Because of the rigid nature of the lens, they hold their shape on the eye allowing for more clear and stable vision correction.

Adapting to GP lenses

One of the downsides of GP contact lenses is that they require an adaptation period, particularly if you are used to soft lenses with a larger diameter. One of the major differences is an experience of “lens awareness” in which you feel the edge of the lens when you blink. It could take up to a few weeks to get used to the lenses but many people report that after this initial period they find that GP lenses are just as if not more comfortable than soft lens varieties.

GP Lenses for Myopia Control and Ortho-K

Research shows that gas permeable lenses might be effective in slowing the progression or worsening of myopia or nearsightedness, particularly in children. They are also used in Orthokeratology (ortho-k), a vision correcting procedure in which you wear the lenses at night to reshape your cornea for improved vision during the day. For more information read contact lenses for the hard-to-fit patient.