Dry eyes and itching, sneezing and sniffing; no one is going to argue that allergies are anything but miserable. What’s more, contact lenses can further aggravate the symptoms, by potentially trapping allergens under the lens. The result is redness and irritation that can make going about your day infinitely more unpleasant. How can we battle the allergies that can strike at any time during the year? By taking a three-pronged approach. The first step is to limit the body’s exposure to the germs, the second is to treat existing symptoms and the third is to minimize the affect contact lenses has on the allergies.
The nights are getting longer, days are getting shorter. Temperatures are dropping and people are spending less time outdoors. No need to worry about UV radiation anymore right? Wrong! UV rays are still present, can still cause damage (painful burns and even worse, skin cancer)—and need to be planned for accordingly. While it may be true that people are more exposed to UV rays in the summer time because they spend more time outdoors—the intensity of UV rays is not necessarily affected by the temperature. For example, UVA rays (long wave ray) are equally strong year-round and are the deepest penetrating UV ray (the other is UVB…a short wave ray).
Some factors to consider affecting UV ray strength:
1) Distance from Equator (Latitude). Generally, the closer you are to the equator the more intense the UV radiation will be—the sun is closer to directly overhead and there is less atmosphere (Ozone) to filter the UV rays.
- The strongest rays will be between the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer—this area will have very high levels of UV radiation year-round.
- The Southern United States (S.California, across to Texas and on to Florida) are likely to have higher levels of UV radiation year round.
2) Time of Day. UV rays are strongest around solar noon…which is anywhere from 10AM to 4PM. A short shadow indicates stronger UV rays. This does not mean that outside this time frame the UV rays are weak; it means that extra protection is needed in this time frame as the rays are significantly stronger.
3) Length of Exposure. The longer you spend in the sun, the more UV rays you are exposed to. This does not have to be outdoor sport related; it can be a simple walk to your car in a parking lot on a sunny day.
4) Reflection. Many people do not realize that UV rays can be reflected off a multitude of surfaces. In general, the whiter the surface, the stronger the UV rays. To protect against reflected UV rays: wear higher SPF sunscreen and apply more frequently than normal, and wear polarized sunglasses to eliminate glare. Below are some surfaces and respective UV reflection levels:
- Water and Grass: can reflect up to 5% of UV rays. Apply sunscreen more frequently than usual, because sweat and water will wear the sunscreen off faster.
- Sand and Concrete: can reflect up to 12% of UV rays.
- Snow: can reflect up to 85% of UV rays. Polarized sunglasses in an environment with snow are critical; because the glare off of snow can cause snow blindness. Regular sunglasses will not prevent this, only polarized lenses will.
5) Cloud Cover. It is a common myth that you will not get burned on a cloudy day…but this is totally untrue. Up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate clouds, fog, or haze. Be mindful of this.
6) Ozone. Thinning out of the Ozone layer (which filters UV rays) results in increased exposure to UV rays. There are holes in the Ozone layer over parts of the Arctic and Antarctic, and in other parts of the world.
7) Altitude. The atmosphere is thinner at higher altitudes. There is less Ozone to filter UV rays at higher altitudes. Each 1,000 meters of elevation gain can equate to roughly 10% increase in UV radiation level.
To protect against the sun’s damaging UV rays and help prevent sunburn & skin cancer, it is strongly recommended to wear a minimum SPF 30 sunscreen anytime you will be in the sun—be sure to apply on any exposed skin. Activities like outdoor sports, a beach day, or anything where you will be sweating or getting wet; consider wearing a stronger SPF sunscreen that is also waterproof. Many times this is labeled a “Sport” or “Active” sunscreen. Another option is to wear clothing that covers more skin.
UV rays do not only cause skin damage; over time, the rays that reach the eyes can cause cataracts and other eye tissue defects. You can even get a sunburn on your eye, called photokeratitis (usually it resolves itself in 1-2 days, but still not fun). One way to help prevent UV damage to the eyes is to wear contact lenses offering UVA and UVB protection, like all Acuvue contacts and the popular Biomedics 55 Premier and Avaira lenses. For extra protection, it is recommended that you wear sunshades when outside, like the Von Zipper sunglasses. Discuss with your doctor if your current contact lenses also protect against UV radiation.
Whether the weather has changed makes no difference to UV rays; they are always damaging and need to be guarded against. Take into account that anytime you are outdoors, you are exposed to UV rays—this exposure is magnified by things like altitude, reflective surfaces, and latitude. To prevent painful sunburns, skin cancer, or even eye damage: wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen, clothing that covers potentially exposed skin, sunglasses, and UV protecting contact lenses.
Contacts – they allow us to navigate the world with enhanced vision without the hassle of bulky and fragile glasses. However, on days like yesterday, lenses can provide another service of spicing up our Halloween costumes! Whether it’s to sport pigments not normally seen in nature (like gold) or to amp up the gruesomeness of appearing as a zombie, more and more people are discovering the transformative powers of costume contacts. Normally we favor the natural appearance of colored Freshlook contacts but, come October 31st, we admittedly love the spooky and fantastical lenses shown below! In honor of yesterday’s major holiday, we decided to highlight some important tips to wearing these cosmetic accessories!
It is crucial to note that failure to follow some very basic precautions can lead to optical injuries, as is the case with all contact lenses. To make sure that you are receiving quality contact lenses that won’t lead to bodily harm, never buy any sort of lens from a vendor that doesn’t require a prescription. Remember that to buy them without a prescription is actually illegal! Never, ever borrow someone else’s lenses, even if it is only for a few hours. Failure to wear ones that are properly fitted can lead to scratched corneas, infections, abrasions and even blindness. All of this can easily be avoided by talking to your eye doctor and purchasing the lenses from a respected and trusted retailer. Additionally, these lenses require the same kind of care as normal contacts. Make sure that your hands are washed prior to application and always store in fresh solution. For tips on how to maintain a healthy environment for your eyes while wearing makeup, read our post Makeup & Contact Lenses.
Always follow the directions on the box, including the duration of time the contacts can be worn before removal is mandatory. If you experience discomfort, let your doctor or optometrist know immediately.
So keep your vision safe and your eyes particularly bright this Halloween and use costume contacts to flaunt a whole new side of you. Bring on the theatrics and bring out a bit of your wild side! Tell us in the comment section below if YOU would ever consider donning something as wacky was red irises, as well as how colored contacts could enhance this year’s costume.
How many times have we heard individuals bemoan being forced to wear glasses? One of the most common reasons you’ll undoubted hear is “I can’t wear contacts because I have astigmatism.” Well, truth be told, the idea that you can’t wear lenses because of this condition is a myth that far too many people buy into.
Astigmatism is a vision condition that causes vision to blur due to an irregularly shaped cornea, lens of the eye, or even the cover of the eye. Astigmatism is a very common disorder. In fact, most people have some form of astigmatism (however slight it may be); the good news is that astigmatism can now be fully corrected with contact lenses!
To find which contact lenses are optimal for you it is always best to consult with your eye care professional, so they can give advice tailored to you; but it is good to be informed of the options. An eye doctor is the only person who will be able to tell how much astigmatism you have—which is critical in deciding which specific description is for you. For more information on the different contact lens styles, check out our post How to choose the right contact lenses for your lifestyle. There are a whole slew of contact lens brands and variations to choose from—and some are specifically designed for astigmatism.
The first step in addressing astigmatism is to find out to what degree you are affected; generally astigmatism is measured in diopters. If a doctor determines that there is not much astigmatism, you may not need special contacts and can wear regular contacts. If a doctor determines that you need special contacts for astigmatism, there are fewer lens options designed for significant amounts of astigmatism (unfortunately, there is no standard definition of “significant amount of astigmatism” it is a doctor’s judgment call.)
- Astigmatism of .75 diopters is about the lowest that any toric lens is designed to correct.
o A toric lens is a soft contact lens specifically designed to compensate for the irregularities of astigmatism; as well as correct any vision problems such as nearsightedness and far sightedness. If you have less than .75 diopters of astigmatism, say .6 diopters, a toric lens might not provide additional benefit over a normal soft contact lens.
o Toric lenses are generally more expensive and may feel a bit different than normal lenses. The doctor should be able to advise if the vision correction benefits would be equal between normal and toric lenses. It may be worth trying samples of each for a week to see which works better for you.
If a doctor determines that toric lenses are the right lenses for you…what brand should you go with? Well, most newer designs work very well—so brand names should not make much difference. However, some brands make their lenses in a wider range of options. The following contact lenses are some of the most popular lenses for astigmatism:
o Made by Johnson and Johnson. These contacts are designed to keep moist while wearing (prevent dry eyes), have good breathability, and provide a good fit. These contacts are replaced every 2 weeks if worn daily and removed/cleaned at night; or can be worn 6 days in a row and then replaced.
o Made by Cibavision. These contacts are designed for maximum oxygen permeability, consistent fit, and comfort. These are monthly disposable lenses that are meant to be removed and cleaned with solution each night.
o Made by Coopervision. These contacts are designed for all day comfort by allowing large amounts of oxygen to the eye, and reducing dry eyes with a special Aquaform Technology. These contacts can be worn 7 days straight and replaced, or as daily wear lenses removed/cleaned each night and replaced after a month.
If you have astigmatism, know that you have options—including many contact lens options! The days of glasses being your only form of vision correction are over. With this article you should be able to have an informed discussion with your eye care professional and find the best pair of contacts for you. Always remember, you can try out as many sample pair of contact lenses as you want—the eye doctor should understand and want to find the most comfortable and well performing lenses for you. Let us know about your experience with contact lenses for astigmatism in the comments section.
If you were given a choice between your vision and your makeup, which would you choose? Luckily, this is a decision you don’t actually have to make, as the two can coexist for women who wear contacts. It’s important to understand that improper application and maintaining can lead to contact wearers to suffer from pretty nasty eye infections but, by taking a few simple steps, ladies can safeguard against the buildup of bacteria. Continue reading to learn how to healthily utilize your favorite makeup staples while sporting contact lenses.
I’ll give you the best tip right off the bat:
************************WASH YOUR HANDS**************************
Having clean hands is an absolute given anytime you will be touching close to the eye—PERIOD. The idea is to keep the eye free from foreign matter, so washing hands is critical in keeping your fingers from stuffing things into your eye. If in doubt, wash your hands.
Another golden nugget:
————————————–DON’T SHARE MAKEUP—————————————-
Bacteria from makeup can get into the eye and cause real problems. It is best to make sure only you are using your makeup to avoid having others’ germs spread to your makeup and body.
Other tips and tricks:
- Along the same lines as mentioned in our earlier post The Ins-and-Outs of wearing Makeup with Contact Lenses, consider spraying perfume/hairspray/deodorant/etc. BEFORE putting contacts in to avoid the spray contaminating the contact lenses and potentially getting trapped in the eye—causing serious discomfort.
- In general, it is best to use oil-free and fragrance free makeup—consider water based products. Also, using water resistant eyeliner and mascara will help prevent makeup flaking off into the eye. Some eye care providers suggest using hypoallergenic products as they are gentler.
- When applying eyeliner, it is better to use a soft pencil; as hard pencil is more likely to flake and fall into the eye. Don’t use liquid eyeliner. It should be obvious but when applying eyeliner, but be VERY careful not to accidentally strike the eye with the pencil.
- Don’t apply makeup onto the inner eyelid (also called eyelid margins) because this part of the eyelid has oil glands which—if clogged by makeup—can cause dry eyes and even ugly styes (worse than being ugly, styes hurt).
- Don’t wear glitter around the eyes. The glitter can fall into the eye and can badly scratch the eye; the problem is compounded if the glitter gets under the contact lens.
- When applying mascara, it would be best to apply from mid-lash to the tips, rather than applying from base to the tips. Applying mascara at the base can allow the mascara brush itself to touch the eye and cause damage, and leaving makeup at the base of the eyelash increases the chance that it will flake off into the eye. Do not use mascara with lash building fibers because the fibers can fall into the eye.
- If applying eye shadow, make sure the eyelashes do not get in the way by holding them down. Makeup inadvertently applied to eyelashes has a good chance of falling into the eye. Be very gentle when applying shadow so you don’t damage the contact or move it out of position.
- Remove your contacts BEFORE removing any makeup, and make this a daily practice using oil-free makeup remover. Always make sure to thoroughly clean your contacts or, to have a hassle-free, fresh lens ready to pop in every morning, consider purchasing Dailies.
Lastly: if your eyes show any redness, swelling, irritation, or if you have pain in either eye DO NOT APPLY MAKEUP. Call your eye care professional for advice.
Wearing makeup with contact lenses does not have to be a cause for worry. Adjusting your makeup application habits to include these tips will help avoid the potential problems, such as infection and scratches to the eye. For suggestions on which hypoallergenic makeup products would be right for you, consult with your eye care professional. Plus, if you want to spice up your look, consider pairing your cosmetics with the colored contacts brought to you by Freshlook.
It’s that time of year that we have all been waiting for. The sun is shining. The birds are singing, and the flowers are blooming. Unfortunately, that day in the sun you’ve been looking forward to all winter long comes with a downside for your contacts: allergies, chlorine, and finding the proper eyewear to protect your eyes.
Ask any hay fever sufferer, and you’ll learn they have a love / hate relationship with Spring and Summer. April showers may lead to May flowers, but they also lead to red, itching, painful eyes. Taking a few preventive measures can help you enjoy your outdoor activities and keep allergy eyes to a minimum.
Take Care Of Your Lenses
It may sound obvious, but make sure you understand and follow the proper care procedures for your contacts including the length of time you wear them. Daily contacts can help reduce allergy issues as you will start the day with a fresh pair free of any allergens. Don’t be tempted to wear your contacts longer than suggested by the manufacture.
Use Eye Drops
During the summer, artificial tears are useful beyond simply soothing dry eyes. They can also wash away allergens. Keep some on hand for when your allergies act up. Lastly, wash your hands often and especially before putting your contacts in. Clean hands do more than ward off colds. They also remove allergens that would end up on your contacts and in your eyes.
Prepare For The Pool
One of the best parts of summer is spending time at the pool. There’s nothing quite like a dip in crystal-clear, blue water on a hot afternoon. The trouble starts with the chlorine in the pool. As a contact lens wearer, you need to know that chlorine can dry your contacts out. If possible, the best option is to take them out before you swim and wait up to an hour before putting your contacts back in. If you can’t swim without your contacts then consider goggles for protection.
Regardless of where you spend your spring and summer days, don’t forget your sunglasses. Sunglasses are a great protection against allergens on a windy day and always important to block the sun’s harmful rays. Keep a pair of sunglasses on hand. Your eyes will thank you.
With a few preventive steps, you should be able to enjoy the warmer weather without much interruption from the elements and keep your eyes happy at the same time.
Most eye allergies are caused by plant pollen, so, as you can imagine they can be rather difficult to avoid. However, there are a few approaches that you can help you decrease and perhaps even improve your eye allergy symptoms:
- Check out the pollen reports. Your weather channel or any weather Internet site will offer updates that give the pollen counts for your region. When you notice that pollen counts are particularly high, limit your time outdoors, if possible.
- Have someone else cut your lawn. It may seem like an extravagance to have someone else take care of your yard, but if you are highly susceptible to spring allergies, this can be a very worthwhile measure to take.
- Limit your exposure to wooded areas. The warm weather always beckons us outdoors, but especially when pollen counts are high, avoid wooded areas.
- Shut your doors and windows and use your air conditioning. Keep in mind that even when you rely on air conditioning, if you are highly sensitive, you can still suffer because the allergens can circulate through your air conditioning system. If you’re noticing that having the air on is not helping, turn it off for the time being, and replace your filter.
- Buy a HEPA high efficiency particulate air) filter. HEPA filter systems are extremely effective at eliminating allergens from the air in your home. If your eye allergies are really bad, this can be a great option!
- Try an over-the-counter allergy medicine that will address your eye allergy symptoms. If you’re unsure of which one to get, consult the pharmacist. And, if over-the-counter is not going to cut it, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options to alleviate your eye allergies.
Optical migraines, also called ocular migraines, are a condition where the sufferer experiences visual disturbances, and if you’ve ever experienced one, the episode can be quite unsettling.
Some symptoms that are often associated with optical migraines are:
· Visual impairment, such as loss of peripheral vision, in one or both eyes
· Visual ‘hallucinations’, like spinning colors or flashing lights
· Blurred vision
· Appearance of shapes, such as dots or zig-zags
· Partial obstruction of vision
· Headache behind one or both eyes
If a headache does result, it can last for a few hours to a few days, depending on the intensity. If you’re sensitive to optical migraines, keep in mind that they are often brought on by stress, food sensitivities, vigorous exercise, or intense exposure to sunlight. Take note of when they tend to occur for you, so you can avoid and prepare for them.
If you’re experiencing an optical migraine, it’s best to take a pain killer, such as Tylenol or Advil, and rest your eyes in a dark room. If you get them frequently, consult your physician or eye doctor.
Clean, well-fitting contact lenses should be so comfortable that you forget you’re wearing them. If they give you a burning sensation, one of several things could be wrong.
1. Your contact lenses are dirty. Protein deposits and other debris accumulate on contact lenses over time, even if you properly clean and disinfect them. These block oxygen from getting to your eye, causing irritation. It can be fixed by adding a separate lens cleaner to your regimen or by replacing your contacts more frequently.
2. You have allergies. Allergens like dust, pollen, and pet dander can build up on/under your contact lenses making for red, itchy, watery eyes. Your doctor may restrict where/how long you wear your contacts or recommend daily disposable lenses.
3. Your eyes are dry. Contact lenses can make some eyes dry out. Symptoms include redness, scratchiness, excessive tearing, or a feeling that something is in your eyes. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops and/or vitamins.
4. You’re sensitive to your lens cleaning solution. An ingredient in your contact lens solution could be irritating your eyes. Even if you’ve safely used the same solution for years, it’s possible to develop an adverse reaction to it. Switching to a preservative-free solution may help.
The only way to know what’s making your eyes burn is to get an eye exam. Don’t delay: even simple problems like this can become serious if left untreated.
Why do you throw milk out when it expires? It can make you sick. You should treat your soft contact lenses the same way. After they’re manufactured, lenses are sterilized and sealed before being put on the market. If too much time passes they risk becoming contaminated, even if left in the package. This could cause serious eye problems.
The expiry date on the lens package is generally written in yyyy/mm format. For example, if the package reads 2015/03, the contents are sterile and safe to wear until March 2015. This date is usually four years from the time of manufacture. Of course this is different from your prescription itself, which in most cases has to be renewed once a year.
Don’t risk your eyes—throw out old lenses!