In recent years, contacts have developed to be more comfortable to wear than ever before, leading many people to routinely wear their contact lenses more often, and for periods far beyond what their optometrist recommends. Drs. Kent Dobbins and Jake Letourneau in Lawrence, Kansas are seeing a rising number of contact lens wearers that are suffering from “contact lens overuse,” a condition that can cause light sensitivity, blurred vision and eye pain, in the short term, as well as very serious eye and visual problems such as corneal abrasions and ulcers on the eye, both of which may cause blindness in extreme cases. Fortunately, there are a great number of things that can be done to avoid this very harmful, but easily preventable, eye condition.
Time Yourself To Protect Your Eyes
The first step toward avoiding contact lens overuse is to keep track of the amount of time every week with your contact lenses out. If you want to reduce your risk, make sure that your contact lenses are out for at least 18 hours every week. This is important because the cornea, the clear part of your eye that your contact lenses sit on, has no blood vessels to supply it oxygen. It therefore has to “breathe in” oxygen from its surroundings, a process made much harder with contact lenses in. Dr. Dobbins explains, “If you spend less than 18 hours per week with your contact lenses out, you may cause your eye to have a severe shortage of oxygen, leading to a process called 'neovascularization,' in which your eyes, starved for oxygen and looking for new ways to receive it, begin to grow new blood vessels into the cornea. These new blood vessels never succeed in providing the needed oxygen and simply block incoming light from entering the eye, severely damaging a person's ability to see.”
Spare Glasses: Your #1 Eye Protection Tool
When aiming to reduce the amount of time you use your contact lenses, a spare pair of glasses is your first, most important tool. Choosing to wear your glasses instead of your contacts at least once or twice a week will help you stay withing your 18 hour time frame. Even on days that you choose to wear your contact lenses, your glasses can serve as your primary means of vision while you get ready for the day, and as you wind down for the night. This means that, rather than putting your contacts in immediately after you wake up in the morning and wearing them until the moment you go to bed, you should wait to put your contacts in as the last step of getting ready for the day and take them out as the first step of getting ready to go to bed for the night. This will add valuable time at the beginning and end of each day that will allow your eyes to recover from the strain put on them by contact lens wear.
Listen to your Eye Doctor. He Knows.
Dr. Letourneau comments, “Every responsible contact lens wearer should know how long their contact lenses can be worn before replacement, and follow their replacement schedule very carefully. Your eye doctor in Lawrence, Eudora or Baldwin City, KS will advise you about the replacement schedule of your contact lenses. If he advises that your contact lenses should be replaced every 30 days, 31 days is too long to wait before replacement. Very serious problems with your contact lenses can result even from a slight deviation from this important schedule. Many people think that their contact lenses are alright to wear so long as they're comfortable. This is actually quite false. By the time your contact lenses are uncomfortable, they may have already damaged your eyes significantly.”
For for information, contact Drs. Dobbins and Letourneau today.