No, no and no. Not only can you not swim in them, but you can not expose your contact lenses to any type of water at all. This includes tap water, oceans, swimming pools, lakes, hot tubs, and even showers! Soft contact lenses absorb not only the water, but any viruses, bacteria, or other microbes that are living in the water. Although rare, an organism called Acanthamoeba which lives in impure water can attach itself to your contacts and cause your cornea to become extremely infected and inflamed and can cause permanent vision loss and/or a corneal transplant if not treated quickly and aggressively. A couple of weeks ago a young man from the UK shared his personal story of how he contracted Acanthamoeba – he initially thought he just scratched his eye putting in his contacts, but instead of getting better over time it got worse. Ultimately he was diagnosed with Acanthamoeba keratitis and even after months of different treatments and procedures he unfortunately lost the vision in his eye. The doctors concluded that he contracted the infection because he showered daily in his contact lenses. Although this is definitely a worse case scenario at the very least the water can cause your contacts to tighten up on your eye and create discomfort or can wash away your natural tears causing dry eyes. Waterproof well fitting swim goggles can be worn over contacts but an even safer option is to purchase a pair of prescription swim goggles to eliminate all risks of contamination.
Okay guys, here’s the scoop – there is no such thing as pink eye. Oh sure, your eye can be pink, but “pink eye” is not a diagnosis, it’s a description of the way your eye looks. So now that we’ve cleared that misconception up, what causes eyes to become pink?
One of the most common causes of pink (or red) eyes is some form of conjunctivitis. The term conjunctivitis is also very nonspecific and vague – so let’s break it down into more understandable terms. The conjunctiva is the clear thin covering of the white part of the eye and the insides of the lids and the term “itis” derives from the Greek and means “inflammation of”. So quite simply, conjunctivitis means that the white part of the eye is inflamed, and when body parts become inflamed, they get red or pinkish. There are three main forms of conjunctivitis:
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis – like it sounds, it’s caused by bacteria – not only is the eye red but there is usually green discharge as well that can cause the eyes to be glued shut upon awakening in the morning. This is pretty contagious and is treated with topical antibiotic drops or ointment.
- Viral Conjunctivitis – caused by viruses, the eyes are watery, red and sometimes itchy. This is also very contagious and since it is a virus, antibiotic drops don’t work. This usually runs its course over a week or so – cool compresses and artificial tears can be helpful.
- Allergic Conjunctivitis – the hallmark symptom of this type of conjunctivitis is unbearable itching. Usually this is a reaction to pollen or ragweed during peak allergy season (spring or fall) or to pets, dust, or other known allergens. It is not contagious and can be treated conservatively with cool compresses or high quality artificial tears. Oral antihistamines are helpful if there is also nasal congestion and sneezing, prescription eye drops work best if it only affects the eyes.
Other causes of pink or red eyes are dry eye and blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) as well as contact lens complications which can range from infections to corneal ulcers. Environmental causes of pink eye are irritants such as dust, smoke, air pollution and chemical exposure. It is important not to self diagnose or use somebody else’s eye drops. If your eyes get red or pink and your symptoms are getting worse or not going away it is important to have your eyes checked by an eye doctor to ensure proper and prompt treatment.
Although we have talked about good contact lens hygiene in the past (remember the underwear analogy?) in honor of Contact Lens Health Week (August 20-24) I will reiterate some of the dos and don’ts of proper contact lens usage.
- Don’t sleep or nap in your contacts. Ever. This kind of risky behavior increases the chances of contact lens related eye infection by 6-8 times. These types of eye infections can lead to using drops hourly, vision loss, and surgery. Just Don’t Do It.
- Wash your hands before putting your fingers in your eyes to touch your contacts.
- Daily disposables are the healthiest modality of contact lens wear. If you do wear bi-weekly or monthly contacts make sure you are using fresh solution in your clean case every day and don’t wear your contacts beyond the recommended wear schedule. Yuk. An old dirty contact lens can also cause infections.
- No swimming or showering with contact lenses. Microbes in water can adhere to contacts and cause…you guessed it – terrible eye infections.
- If your eye hurts or looks red or weird don’t put your contact lenses in your eye and hope for the best – make an appointment ASAP with your optometrist.
- Make an appointment yearly to see your optometrist. Not all contact lens related complications are visible to the naked eye and a thorough professional evaluation is necessary to ensure your eyes are getting enough oxygen and have no corneal defects.
#onepairtakecare – you only get one pair of eyes – treat them well!
Eating just one orange a day can slash your risk of developing macular degeneration by 60%. A recent study in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition followed 2,000 patients over the age of 50 for 15 years and found that the patients who ate an orange a day had a significantly decreased risk of AMD (age related macular degeneration) compared to those patients who ate no oranges at all. Usually research involving oranges concentrates on the effects of the vitamin C, E, and A the oranges contain, but this study put an emphasis on theflavonoids found in oranges. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that have immune and anti-inflammatory effects and are found in most fruits and vegetables. The study examined other foods that have flavonoids such as tea, apples and red wine (yes please) but for some reason oranges were the only food that aided in the prevention of AMD. The authors of the study acknowledge that more research has to be done before doctors can definitely prescribe an orange a day to keep AMD away.
Who doesn’t love sunglasses? After all, how many fashion accessories can also claim to be important medical devices? Whether you prefer glamorous or sporty, classic or trendy, sunglasses are a fashion statement that never goes out of style. In honor of National Sunglasses Day which takes place on June 27, here are a few facts about sunglasses that might be new to you.
Size matters. This season has seen a trend in “micro” sunglasses both on celebs and on the catwalk. Don’t be lured into this fad – not only do the eyes themselves need UV protection, so does the whole lid area and all the skin around the eyes in order to prevent melanoma. Also, do you really want to revisit nineties fashion?
Kids need sunglasses too. Because children have naturally larger pupils (pupil = that dark hole in the center of the eye that lets light in) more harmful UV rays reach their retinas and can cause future damage. Also interesting is the fact that kids are short and tend to look up more to see the world which causes them to look into the sun more often than adults. Parents are reluctant to spend money on kids sunglasses because kids lose stuff. A lot. One easy way around this is to make sure that kids who wear prescription glasses get photochromic lenses – the ones that magically morph into sunglasses when exposed to sunlight – no keeping track of a second pair. Kids that don’t wear prescription glasses will be excited to wear a cool grown up accessory and wearing them on a strap is a sporty way to make sure they don’t get lost.
Just because sunglasses are dark does not mean they have UV protection! In fact many of those cheap sunglasses you buy off street vendors are tinted but have no UV and are even more dangerous than not wearing anything at all. If the glasses are dark your pupil will open up even wider to let more light in, but since there is no UV in the lens, it allows more dangerous light into the eye. Sunglasses don’t need to be expensive but they do need to have UVA and UVB protection which should be indicated by a sticker on the sunglasses.
No matter what your motivation is, be it hiding from the paparazzi or just sporting a posh headband, quality sunglasses are a fun investment in your eye health.
For more information on National Sunglass Day visit