Are colored contact lenses safe?

Photo of listentothemountains on Flickr

Photo of listentothemountains on Flickr

Are decorative contact lenses safe?

Decorative or colored contact lenses are safe as long as they are prescribed by an eye doctor. It is important to note that contact lenses are FDA approved medical devices and require a prescription.

How should decorative lenses for cared for?

Proper cleaning is important for all contact lenses, including decorative lenses. Either a multipurpose solution or hydrogen peroxide based solution may be used to clean contact lenses. Be sure to follow your eye doctor’s recommendations for cleaning contact lenses.

Does wearing decorative lenses affect vision?

Vision can be corrected with decorative lenses. However, some decorative contact lenses may limit the amount of light that can enter the eye if the contact lens is dark in color.

After use, can decorative lenses be reused?

Yes. Decorative contact lenses may be resused. It is important to clean lenses after removal and to follow the directions for cleaning, disinfection and wearing your decorative lenses. Contacts that are not cleaned or disinfected properly can cause pain and lead to potentially serious infections.

How important is it to have an eye doctor fit and prescribe contact lenses?

In order to maintain good eye health, it is crucial that contact lenses are prescribed by an eye doctor. A valid prescription should include the brand name, lens power, curvature measurements and an expiration date. In addition to assessing vision, the front of the eye including the eyelids, cornea and conjunctiva should be evaluated. Without proper evaluation of contacts on the eye, patients risk eye abrasion, possible loss of vision and even blindness. If you experience any symptoms such as redness, irritation or blurry vision, remove the contact lenses and contact your eye doctor immediately.

~ Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association

My son needs prescription swim goggles

Last year, I discovered our son needed glasses. As he sat in my exam chair, struggling to read the letter chart, I was tempted to say what some well-meaning parents usually say, “Are you sure you’re reading the right line?” It’s taken me a year, but I’m now accustomed to seeing him in glasses, which he wears full-time.  The lenses are made of a poIycarbonate material which is required for children under age 18, is impact-resistant, scratch-resistant and provides ultraviolet (UV) protection. I appreciate the fact that he has UV protection for his eyes all the time now – even on cloudy days.

Photo Courtesy of Whateverthing on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Whateverthing

One of the headaches with raising children is the quantity of items you have to purchase for all their activities. Now, I need to consider all sorts of eyewear for our son. It’s a good thing I’m an optometrist because I happen to know a thing or two about eyewear.

My quest for prescription swim goggles

Everybody should wear swim goggles in the water to protect the eyes from UV rays and from irritants in the water. And those that wear glasses full-time will do best with prescription goggles. Our son doesn’t feel confident in the water once he removes his glasses due to blurry vision and tinted lenses make it worse. I often advise patients to check with the local sporting goods store for prescription swim goggles. I found our son’s prescription at the local store for about $22, although the selection was limited and the highest power was -3.00. If you are farsighted with a prescription that starts with a ‘+’, they will most likely not carry the power.

I decided to call our optical supplier at my office about the swim goggles they offer. The price was twice as much as the store-bought pair but the prescription can go up higher to a -8.00. If you have a prescription that requires more customization, such as astigmatism or a higher power, expect to pay much more for a custom made pair. I wasn’t able to compare the optics of the goggles to the store bought pair, but I think it may be negligible considering its limited purpose for a 10-year-old boy. Besides, they’ll probably be lost by next week anyway.

Photo courtesy of Evonne on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Evonne on Flickr

There are also plenty of online suppliers of prescription swim goggles. For more advanced swimmers who require certain forms of coverage or speed, there are more choices of customization available. Another factor to consider is when both eyes don’t have the same prescription. You can purchase two ready-made pairs and use the corresponding power for each eye from each goggle; just make sure the nose bridge detaches.

For those whose profession or hobbies require prescription swim goggles, I would recommend trying a custom made pair for better optics. Check with your optometrist for the power that you would need. Be sure to specify the distance at which you would like to see. For example, snorkeling may require a prescription for intermediate distances. Some optometry offices carry prescription swim goggles or can order them for you. Otherwise, there are many online companies that can customize the prescription and goggle design for your specific needs.

Now that I’ve purchased our son’s swim goggles, next on my list are sports goggles. Especially, now that he has scratches on his face from a basketball game gone awry on Father’s Day.

~ Cindy P. Wang, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association

Tint my world – what different sunglass tints do for my vision

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Bollwitt on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Bollwitt on Flickr

Have you ever been shopping for new sunglasses and been asked, “what color lenses would you like?” If you look back over the past century, there have been many different colors of sunglass lenses that were popular. Back in the 1930’s, Ray-ban developed their B-15 brown lens to be used by US Airforce pilots. Followed up by the G-15 with grey-green sunglass lens, standard in the iconic Wayfarer in the 1950’s. In the 80’s, Vuarnet came out with the popular Px 2000 amber lens to increase contrast and the Px 5000 brown lens for extreme conditions of high mountains, glaciers and desert.

Revo – blue, Suncloud – red, what is the best color for your sunglass lenses?

The following is a guide to the benefits of different lens colors:

  • Grey – most common lens color; this tint is considered neutral because it maintains true colors while decreasing light levels. Good for general outdoor activities.
  • Green –works the same in any light condition; they can be used for just about any outdoor activity.
  • Brown and Amber –causes some color distortion, but also increases contrast. These lenses filter out distortion caused by scattered blue light thus are great for activities like tennis, skiing, boating, high-altitude sports, or other sports where distance vision is important. This tint is also great for golf, as it highlights varying contrasts of green on the golf course.
  • Yellow – like amber lenses, some color distortion, but increased contrast. Great for activities in lower light levels especially with changes from light to shadows. These are the lenses to choose when mountain biking, target shooting, skiing, playing tennis, or piloting an aircraft.
  • Pink, Rose and Red –block blue light, thereby improving contrast. Very soothing to the eyes, they provide good visibility on the road. Great for sports like cycling and racing.
  • Blue and Purple – a high contrast lens that reduces glare from visible white light. These lenses are endorsed by the USPTA for tennis professionals and linepersons in the sport because they block the glare from visible white light.
  • Polarization – though not a tint, polarized lenses offer significant glare reduction. Glare caused by light reflected off flat surfaces including roadways, water and snow is blocked by polarized filters, whereas tints can only decrease light intensity. A polarized lens can be combined with nearly any lens color.

No matter what color lenses you choose, the most important feature of your sunglasses is UV protection. Be sure to ask for 100% UV 400 eye protection to decrease the risk of certain eye diseases including macular degeneration, cataracts, and pterygium. According to the American Optometric Association, to provide adequate protection for your eyes, sunglasses should:

  • block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
  • screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light;
  • be perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection

~ Steven Sage Hider, OD
California Optometric Association

Workplace eye protection – What advice can an eye doc give?

Wear your safety glasses

If you are a carpenter, chemist, dentist, gardener, machinist, manicurist, painter, or plumber just to name a few occupations, these four little words should be ingrained in your mind and practiced 100 percent of the time. Protective eyewear does not consist of your standard frame or ordinary lens material that you may wear on a daily basis for vision correction or as a fashion accessory.

The standards for “protective eyewear” is set forth by one of the branches of the federal agency called Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Mandates to wear protective eyewear is to safeguard you, the workforce, from unnecessary injury and harm. Such protective eyewear for the workplace is very specific and is typically made of a chemical and impact resistant material such as Trivex®. The lens may incorporate your prescription or it may simply have no prescription at all. The frame is manufactured with materials that is flexibly strong and is has a Z87 labeling. Additionally, the frame may have side shields for added protection if needed.


Photo courtesy of John Carleton on Flickr

The story of Mr. Plumber

A patient of mine named Mr. Plumber (real patient, fictitious name). He is a hard working plumber in our town. Mr. Plumber frequents our office way too often. You see, Mr. Plumber refuses to wear “safety goggles” because he feels uncomfortable and restricted with them on. In only ten years, he has suffered 25 pieces of metal lodged into both corneas. It wasn’t until one of the metal pieces pierced the center of his right eye, causing loss of vision, that he finally decided to comply with our ongoing recommendation of those four little, but impactful words… wear you safety glasses!

~Judy Tong, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association

School is out! How to keep your child’s eyes healthy during summer

Photo courtesy of Andrew Eick on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Andrew Eick on Flickr

A few weeks ago we published a blog about how important it is for our children to spend time outdoors to prevent myopia. ‎

Being outdoors is great for helping to prevent nearsightedness and for exercising our eye focusing muscles, but you may wonder what else you need to do to make sure your child’s eyes stay healthy through the summer.

A few things come to mind.  It has become very common practice to never let our children leave the house with out sun protection: Sunblock, hats, UV blocking clothes and bathing suits. But, what is less common is remembering sunglasses for UV protection for the eyes.  Kids playing outdoors in the sun are exposing the lenses of their eyes and their retinas to harmful UV radiation.  Additionally, their lenses are so young that they do not block UV as well as adult lenses thus sending more UV to the retina.  UV damage to the lens and retina can by a cause of early cataracts and Macular Degeneration.  When buying sunglasses for kids, make sure that they are UV blocking and polarized if possible to reduce glare when around water. More information about children and sunglasses can also be found here.

Next, swim goggles are a good idea for the pool to help keep chlorine out of the eyes.  Chlorine can cause redness, burning, and blurry vision as well.  An added bonus would be swim goggles with a little tint or UV protection as well. If your child experiences these symptoms after playing in the pool, ask your eye doctor what eye drops are right to use to help.

Lastly, the use of sports goggles for eye protection during sports activities is also a must for eye injury prevention while playing soccer, baseball and any other outdoor sports.  For more information about preventing eye injury this summer, here is another great resource.

Enjoy your summer, enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine and stay eye healthy and safe!

~Lisa Weiss, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association