Why You Should Consider Hard Contact Lenses

benefits of hard contacts

Hard contact lenses (also called gas permeable lenses) seem to have gotten somewhat of a bad rap over the years, replaced by many contact wearers with the ever-comfortable soft contact lenses. Don’t get us wrong – there’s a lot to love about the watery, silicone smooth fit and feel of soft lenses. But hard contacts shouldn’t be totally discounted, either! In fact, you might want to consider switching over…

Hard Contacts: The Early Years

The first contacts released to the public were hard lenses. These OG lenses were made from a plastic called poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA). Glass-wearers rejoiced over them ‘round the globe, but were soon admitting they weren’t exactly the most comfortable things to wear. That’s because the PMMA completely blocked oxygen from reaching the cornea, which often led to dry eyes. To be fair, eyes weren’t exactly starved for oxygen — these early hard lenses worked by shifting slightly each time the wearer blinked, which allowed oxygen to slip past them.  Soft lenses, on the other hand, are all about promoting moisture and maximum comfort thanks to their water-based technology and thin, bendable shape, all of which allow oxygen to flow easily to the eyeball.

The Benefits of Today’s Hard Contact Lenses

Luckily, hard lenses have come a long way from those of yesteryear. Case in point:

  1. They’re Breathable
    While they’re still rigid, stiff lenses, silicone is now incorporated into them, which allows oxygen to pass through to the eyeball. This is majorly good news for your eye health, and also leads to greater comfort for the wearer.
  2. They’re Durable
    While many folks bemoan the rigid feel and shape of hard contact lenses, they don’t realize that it actually has its benefits. A stiff lens is much more durable than its soft counterpart, which is notorious for ripping and tearing rather easily. This is one reason that soft lenses are made as dailies and monthlies — they’re not exactly made to last for the long haul. Hard lenses, on the other hand, can last for years with proper care and maintenance. And, yes, you read that right: years.
  3. They Can Improve Your Vision
    Something else a lot of people don’t realize is that hard contact lenses can actually improve vision. Their rigid form means they won’t bend each time you blink, which prevents your eye from constantly having to refocus. What’s more, they won’t lose their shape over time. Holding to their unyielding, original design allows for more precise vision every time you wear them. For some, they can also help stop the progression of nearsightedness.
  4. They’re Ideal for Those with Astigmatism & Unusual Shaped Eyes
    Hard lenses are worth checking out for anyone, but especially if you have an unusual eye shape or astigmatism, which is an atypical curvature of the cornea. This is because they can be molded to fit your exact shape, no matter how abnormal it may be. When the custom fit lenses are worn, it’s like you have a perfect eye shape, resulting in optimal, clear vision.

Maintenance of Hard Contact Lenses

Caring for hard contact lenses isn’t necessarily difficult or much different than for soft lenses. They do require cleaners and drops designed specifically for hard lenses, though. These tend to be a bit more expensive; but remember, you’re caring for a pair of lenses that can last months if not years. Overall, you’ll likely end up spending significantly less over time.

It’s worth noting that gas permeable lenses require a certain period of adjustment when new. The stiff lens is almost always noticeable in the eyeball, which can take some getting used to. After this adjustment period ends, most folks are perfectly happy with their lenses. However, if you stop wearing them for a few days, you will go through this again next time you pop them in. This typically isn’t enough to deter people from wearing hard contacts, but it may come as a surprise at first. If you’re aware of it upfront, it’s easier to get through that adjustment period and come to love your hard contacts!

We hope this piece has helped shed some light on hard lenses. They really have a ton of benefits most people aren’t aware of. The next time you’re in the market for a new pair of lenses, don’t be so quick to discount them!

Image courtesy of Niek Beck

What to Do When Your Contact Lens is Stuck Behind Your Eye

contact-lens-stuck

Every contact lens wearer has been there. When that renegade contact seems to up and vanish behind the eye, it’s hard not to freak out. Where the heck did it go? How can something get lost in your eyeball? And what happens next? It is suctioned to a bone? Floating down a channel to your brain? Ugh, gross!

Can a Contact Get Lost in Your Eye?

If you’ve lived to tell the tale, then you probably know that all that freaking out wasn’t really necessary. In fact, a contact lens can never – we repeat, never – get permanently stuck behind your eyeball. Why? Because it is anatomically impossible.

The eyeball is actually connected to the eyelids via a thin mucous membrane called conjunctiva. This moist layer coats the upper and lower eyelid, as well as the entire front of the eyeball. The conjunctiva is completely connected from the eyelids to the eyeball, so there is no stray or open space for anything to slip under.

The conjunctiva helps keep your eyes lubricated and refreshed. But another one of its jobs is to protect the eyeball by stopping anything from slipping behind it. If it can stop microbes from getting behind the eyeball, you better believe it can stop your contacts. Conjunctiva to the rescue!

How Does the Contact Get Stuck?

Okay, so we all understand that a contact can’t get into the back of your eyelid (phew), but it can certainly seem to disappear. What gives?

Unfortunately, your daily contact can dislodge from the cornea. This means it has gotten loose, or perhaps folded in half and is now nowhere to be found. This can be a particular issue with soft contact lenses. It usually happens if you rub your eye, or if something comes into contact with it. Either way, some sort of physical contact has caused the lens to suddenly get outta whack.

If you can’t see the lens but can feel it, chances are that’s it’s become stuck behind your upper or lower eyelid. This is what’s preventing you from seeing it. You can’t exactly peel your eyelid back to scoop it out, after all. So what now?

What to Do to Remove It

The best way to begin tackling a dislodged contact is to give your eye a few squeezes of rewetting eye drops. Give a few more squirts than you ordinarily would, as you want the extra moisture to essentially flood the eyeball and force the contact out of its hiding place.

If, after the drops, your contact still doesn’t slip out, then you’ll want to begin gently massaging your eye ‒ and we do mean GENTLY! It’s important not to use any real force, as this could be dangerous to the eyeball. For starts, it could cause the contact to scratch your cornea, especially if it’s become folded up. A scratch in the cornea is not only irritating and painful, but can make you vulnerable to infections.

So, like we said, be gentle when rubbing. In most cases, the combination of eye drops and a delicate massage will push the contact back to the surface where you can see it.

If you’ve tried these steps and it still won’t come out, give your eye doctor’s office a buzz. They may be able to walk you through the steps to better remove it, or simply have you come into the office for a quick peek.

All About the Cornea – What is it, and What Are Some of the More Commonly Experienced Issues?

cornea

The eyeball is a super complex organ comprised of many different parts that work perfectly together to allow us to see. Each little piece has its own unique and necessary job to do so that vision is as seamless as possible. One of the major components of this grouping is the cornea, which performs a number of different tasks, all for the good of our vision. In this piece, we’ll dig into all things cornea ‒ what is it, what it does, and some common issues faced when something goes wrong with it, whether a disease or injury. Keep reading for the lowdown!

What Is the Cornea?

The cornea is a clear, dome-shaped layer that covers the front of the eyeball, including the pupil and iris. It’s the outermost level of the eye, which means it’s the part you can touch if put your finger in your eye (which we highly suggest you avoid doing).

The cornea is made up of tissue that receives no supply of oxygen through blood vessels, but instead gets its oxygen from the air. This allows the cornea full transparency, which of course, is necessary for it to do its job correctly.

We know this definition makes the cornea sound fairly simple, but it actually is composed of a whopping five layers, each with its own function. These include:

  1. Epithelium ‒ outermost layer that blocks materials from entering the eyeball
  2. Bowman’s layer ‒ made from collagen, which can create scars on cornea if it is injured
  3. Stroma ‒ contains most of the components that keep the cornea transparent, such as water and collagen
  4. Descemet’s membrane ‒ protects against infections
  5. Endothelium ‒ key layer in keeping the cornea clear by getting rid of any waste that may infiltrate the cornea

What Does It Do?

As the outermost layer, you might have correctly guessed that part of the cornea’s job is to protect the eye. It shields some of the eyeball’s more delicate parts, like the pupil, from potentially harmful things like dust, allergens, and even germs.

The cornea isn’t the only great protector, though. Like we said, the eyeball is an incredibly complex system. Along with the cornea, the eyelids, eyelashes, tears and tear ducts, sclera, and eye socket all work together to keep the eyeball safe.

The cornea has another mega job to do: helping the eye to focus. It does this by bending light that enters the eye (hence the dome shape). The lens takes over from there, continuing to focus and refine the image so that it can be eventually sent to the brain.

Common Eye Issues That Affect the Cornea

The cornea is susceptible to many different injuries and complications, just like any other part of the body. Here, we’ll go over a few of the most common of these:

Pink eye ‒ Chances are that you’ve encountered this pesky condition at least once in your life. Conjunctivitis is typically pretty harmless, but this temporary inflammation can be a total pain to manage, especially as it is highly contagious. A prescription antibiotic usually does the trick for clearing up pink eye.

Allergies ‒ Allergies will flare up at least one point during the year, depending on what you’re allergic to. While some people are affected in the fall, many people experience allergy issues in the spring, when there’s an increase of pollen floating in the air. Like pink eye, this issue is incredibly common and of little concern. Eye drops and antihistamines usually do the trick keeping things under control.

Corneal abrasion ‒ This is typically caused by an injury or trauma to the eye. When an abrasion occurs, part of the epithelial, the outermost layer of the cornea, is lost. Antibiotic eye drops and a patch are the most common treatments for when this happens.

Corneal dystrophy­ ‒ There are a few different types of corneal dystrophies, but generally speaking they all refer to a clouding of the cornea. As you know by now, a healthy cornea is completely clear. Any clouding could impede vision. This is a rare hereditary disorder that often requires surgery.

Now that you know a bit more about the cornea, perhaps you’ll have a greater appreciation for it each time you go to insert your contact lens!

Better With or Without Glasses: Samuel L. Jackson

SLJ-headerSamuel L. Jackson (the “L” stands for Leroy, by the way) is an American actor and producer. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s never seen him in a movie ‒ and not just because he’s been in over 100 of them. Jackson has been acting since the early ’70s, but he rocketed to fame in the early ’90s and has shown no signs of slowing down some 25 years later.

Some of Jackson’s biggest films include True Romance (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994), Jackie Brown (1997), and Iron Man 2 (2010). He’s also lent is voice to quite a few films, including The Incredibles and even the wildly popular video game Grand Theft Auto (2004).

Jackson definitely stays busy, and he’s raking in a pretty penny while doing so. In fact, the star is ranked as the second highest all-time box office star. His films, on average, have made a cool $68.2 million apiece. Adding up all films under his belt, that’s almost $5 billion!

When it comes to looks, Jackson keeps it simple and cool. He’s almost always rocking a perfectly smooth, bald head topped with a hat. One thing we can’t help loving about the iconic star’s appearance is the glasses/contacts dynamics. He’s often bouncing between the two – which is why the topic of this piece should come as no surprise. Do we think Samuel L. Jackson looks better with or without glasses? Let’s have a look…

samuel-l-jackson-glasses

With his staple accessories, the picture on the left is a classic Samuel L. Jackson shot. And you know what? It works for him. He looks great, especially as the hat and glasses frame his big smile and laughing eyes.

On the right, Jackson looks way more serious; perhaps even a bit intimidating. We would probably pass on asking for an autograph if we caught him with that look on his face. Still, his brown eyes pop when not obtruded by glasses. If we had to pick, we’d have to admit he looks better on the left. But perhaps that has more to do with his infectious grin than choice in vision correction. What can we say? Happiness looks good.

OK, let’s try again. It’s not often we go for glasses over contacts!samuel-l-jackson-glasses

This is a good set to compare because his expressions are, again, exactly opposite. On the left, Jackson looks rather thoughtful. He’s wearing his trademark round, thin frames. While this look suits him, it pales in comparison to the one on the right. With that smile, there’s such a change! Even with the salt and pepper goatee, we actually think he looks younger and lighter. (Sure, the bucket hat helps, too.)

In this one, we think it’s pretty clear: the contacts are a total win.

samuel-l-jackson-glasses

Every other picture we’ve caught him smiling or near frowning. But hey, life’s full of emotions, right? We think we’ve already made it pretty clear we’re big fans of the smiling Jackson. And well, the hat – no matter the style – really works for him.

On the right, without his glasses, Jackson looks pretty swell. Sure, he may not be smiling, but the tough guy role is one of his go-to’s, after all! When it comes to these two looks, we’re hard pressed to pick. So, we won’t. Samuel L. Jackson can work the glasses and contacts. Like his films, we’re fans of everything he does!

The Most Common Age-Related Eye Problems

age-related-eye-problemsAs we age, it’s common to begin to notice different eye health problems. These conditions can vary widely, both in symptoms experienced and in the resulting effect they have on the eyeball and vision. Luckily, most age-related issues can be treated – or even corrected – with medication, procedures, and prescription glasses or contacts. Keep reading for a list of some of the most common eye problems brought on by age, and information on how they are typically treated.

Cataracts

Cataracts are a clouding of the eyeball lens, which is normally clear. They can be very slow-forming, which means someone can have cataracts for a long time and not even realize it. Eventually, when they spread over enough of the eye lens, the clouding can affect vision.

Routine eye exams are the best way to check for and monitor cataracts. Your doctor will be able to alert you if and when they need to be removed. This can be done with a fairly simple and safe surgery. The procedure is typically done out-patient.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition caused by a buildup of pressure in the eyeball. This pressure can begin to deteriorate the optic nerve, which is the channel that carries signals from your eyeball to the brain. This causes you to see spots, or have gaps in your vision.

Glaucoma can worsen over time, though early-on those who have it may not experience any symptoms. If left undetected over a few years, it can lead to permanent blindness.

This condition is more prevalent in older populations, and can be diagnosed at a routine eye exam. Once detected, it may be treated with either prescription eye drops or surgery.

Presbyopia

It’s estimated that over 100 million Americans over the age of 40 suffer from presbyopia, making it a really common vision issue. In fact, it’s a condition that most people will eventually face in older age. In this condition, items viewed up close become blurry – just like being farsighted.

The eye lens is soft and pliable. However, it becomes more rigid as we age, and this rigidity is what causes presbyopia. As the lens stiffens, the loss of flexibility causes vision loss.

While no one wants to experience worsening vision, presbyopia can be corrected with prescription glasses or contacts, like Acuvue Oasys or Bausch and Lomb’s Purevision 2.

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) occurs when the retina begins to deteriorate. It’s extremely common – in fact, it’s the number one cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60. While most will only experience vision loss from this condition, in more severe cases, ARMD can lead to blindness.

ARMD should be closely monitored by an ophthalmologist during routine eye exams. Some cases can be treated with prescription medications and/or surgery.

Eye Floaters

Floaters are tiny spots or lines that interrupt vision, and typically appear when looking at something bright, like a white wall or the sky. These small, grayish spots are caused by a loosening of the vitreous humor. Housed in the back of the eye, this gel-like substance makes up a large amount of the eyeball. As tiny pieces of the material loosen, they begin to float freely. These are the small spots and lines that may be seen by older folks.

While irritating, most people learn to ignore their eye floaters and don’t require any treatment for the condition.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is a common eye issue for people of all ages, but as you grow older it becomes more prevalent. In fact, most people over the age of 65 experience symptoms of dry eyes. In these cases, it’s typically caused by either poor quality of tears, or an inadequate amount of them.

To learn more about dry eyes, see our recent article on the topic, which discusses causes, symptoms, and treatment.