Contact Lens Health Week

How Often Should I Change My Contacts? 

August 16th-21st is Contact Lens Health Week. So there is no better time than this to discuss the importance of replacing your contact lenses! 

How often should I change my contacts? Especially if you’re a new wearer of contacts, this is a very common question. However, the answer has become more confusing over time as more and more types of contacts have become available. Some contacts are replaced once every two weeks, others are replaced every month, and some are even replaced daily! It’s important to know the lifespan of your contacts so that you can treat them well and keep your eyes healthy.

First, check the box of the lenses that you were prescribed by your optometrist.The manufacturer should have provided a “recommended usage,” which will help you know how long your contacts should last. If you can’t find this information, don’t be afraid to consult your optometry office for help. 

The Basics

All contact lenses must be replaced frequently, even those that are perfectly maintained. If contact lenses are not replaced frequently enough, protein deposits and contamination may build up on the surface of the contact, increasing your risk of developing an eye infection. Most people use soft contacts, which are especially susceptible to deposits and contamination. Gas permeable contact lenses can last a year or longer before requiring replacement.

Remember that the wear schedule provided is for a maximum amount of time. So if your contact lens is beginning to irritate your eye or you notice a tear before you’ve reached the end of the wear schedule, throw the lens out and open up a new lens. Always put the health of your eyes first!

The Lifespan of Contact Lenses

When it comes to lifespan, there are five general types of contact lenses:

  • Daily Disposable: Daily disposable contacts are replaced after one day of wear.
  • Bi-Weekly Disposable: Contact lenses are replaced after two weeks of wear.
  • Monthly Disposable: Contact lenses are replaced monthly. 
  • Gas Permeable/Scleral: With proper care, gas permeable lenses can last for years. Scleral lenses are very similar, except they go over the cornea to bypass irregular amounts of astigmatism.

About 40 percent of Americans who wear soft contacts are prescribed monthly contacts, about 35 percent use daily contacts, and about 24 percent use contacts that must be replaced every one to two weeks. Only 1 percent use contact lenses that can be replaced annually. 

Why It’s Important to Stick to Your Replacement Schedule

We know how easy it is to forget when you need to replace your contacts. For some people, it’s also tempting to continue wearing contacts past their expiration date if they aren’t showing wear and tear. Be sure to mark the date on your calendar or add an alert to your phone because it’s dangerous to wear your contacts past their prime. Even if your contacts don’t feel uncomfortable and your vision isn’t blurry, stick to your contact replacement schedule. In addition, even if you didn’t wear your contacts for the full use period (let’s say you opened up 30-day contacts, wore them once, and then wore your glasses for a week), you should still replace your contacts 30 days after you first used them.

If you don’t change them out, your contacts will accumulate protein deposits over time, reducing the amount of oxygen that can reach your eyes. This will make your eyes more prone to a variety of issues, including irritation, infections, blood vessel growth, and inflammation. Over time, these symptoms can lead to contact lens intolerance, permanent eye damage, or even vision loss.

Sleeping in your contacts is also quite dangerous if your lenses are not designed for overnight use. If it happens once, shrug it off but if you make a habit of wearing your contacts longer than they’re intended to be used, you could experience mild side effects like discomfort, red eye, or more major health concerns like corneal hypoxia (during which the eye is starved of oxygen), which can cause a corneal ulcer. In rare cases, this could even cause a severe infection.

Common Eye Exam Misconceptions

We can all agree that having healthy eyes is important, but did you know that only a little over 50% of people get annual eye exams? Why you might ask? According to a recent survey put out by VSP, a majority of people skip eye exams because they don’t think they need vision correction, think eye exams are expensive, or don’t have vision insurance. Although common, these reasons are often related to misconceptions about eye exams. Let’s clear the air and bust these myths.

Myth: Eye Exams are Unnecessary Those who don’t wear glasses or contacts might think, why would I need an eye exam? It’s a fair question. What most people don’t know is that an eye doctor can help detect early signs of more serious diseases and conditions through a comprehensive eye exam. Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid diseases, and certain types of cancers can be detected through your eyes.

Although you might not have needed vision correction in the past, your eyes can change as you age. Perhaps when you were younger you could see objects up close, but as you get older those objects start to become blurry. Changes in your vision can be caught early by your eye doctor at an annual eye exam.

Myth: Children Don’t Need an Eye Exam Until They Start School

Children should have their first eye exam when they are six-months old. Most parents are unaware that eye exams should begin so young. Following a child’s first appointment at six-months old, eye exams should also take place at three years old, before starting elementary school, and then yearly thereafter.

Annual eye exams for kids are important because many children may not be able to articulate that they can’t see well. This becomes problematic because although eight in ten parents agree that regular eye exams help kids do their best in school, almost half wait until their child complains about their vision to schedule an eye exam.

Myth: Vision Insurance is Expensive

It’s important to find a vision insurance plan that fits you and your family’s eye care needs but also your budget. Many employers have insurance plans for their employees to select and give them different benefits depending on which plan is chosen. For those who do not have vision insurance, Ocean Eye, along with many other eyecare practices offer ‘self-pay’ pricing!

In summary, it is crucial to understand the importance of eyecare. If you are unsure about anything, please feel free to give us a call or schedule an appointment to speak with one of our eye care providers!

The Importance of Sunglasses

5 Reasons You Should Wear Sunglasses More Often

Have you ever wondered if you actually need sunglasses? 

Summer is right around the corner, so there is no better time to talk about the importance of good quality shades! 

Aside from being known as an awesome style accessory, sunglasses have a load of benefits for your eyes. They cut down on glare, prevent eye conditions, and protect against UV damage. With all that going for them, here are the top five reasons you should get some high-quality shades and wear them regularly!

1. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the elements.

If you love taking part in outdoor activities, such as biking, skiing, or running, you should wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from sand, dust, debris, and UV radiation. Sand, wind, and dust can all irritate your eyes and even scratch the cornea, sometimes causing permanent damage. Even snow, while less abrasive, reflects UV rays from the sun at your eyes. If you’re spending a lot of time in the snow without sunglasses, it can cause “snow blindness,” a temporary loss of vision due to overexposure to the UV rays reflected off ice and snow. 

2. Sunglasses help prevent certain eye diseases related to the sun.

Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and pterygium. Cataracts involve a clouding of the eye’s lens that causes blurred vision; macular degeneration results from deterioration of the macula in the retina that destroys central vision; and pterygium involves tissue growth on the eyeball. Studies also report that a number of eye cancers are associated with extreme exposure to UV radiation. You can lower your risk if you wear sunglasses that protect against UVB and UVA radiation.

3. You’ll be able to see more and enjoy the view more than otherwise.

In addition to protecting your eye health, wearing sunglasses will simply help you see better in bright light. They cut down on glare and improve the colors and contrast of your view, so you can better take in your outdoor surroundings or drive more safely. Even on somewhat cloudy days, wearing sunglasses while driving can improve your vision and cut down on glare. If you’re out fishing instead of driving, you’ll also be able to see past the surface of water more easily without that bright, reflective glare! 

4. Sunglasses will help protect your eyes if they are recovering from a procedure.

Corrective eye surgeries are common these days, including LASIK and cataract surgery. It’s important that you continue to wear sunglasses after the procedure to help your eyes heal properly. The sunglasses will help protect your eyes from damage and ensure your eyes heal smoothly and quickly.

5. You’ll be able to avoid headaches and migraines.

For many people who regularly get migraines or bad headaches, bright sunlight can be a major trigger. Wearing sunglasses allows you to soak up the sun without risking extreme pain and discomfort.

Whatever reason appeals most to you, the important message is that sunglasses keep your eyes protected and help you to be more comfortable in the outdoors. So make sure to get a pair of high quality sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays and wear them regularly!