Friday, June 8, 2012

Should I give my eyes a rest from contact lenses?

Once patients reach a certain age of responsibility they start to worry about their ocular health and how contact lenses will affect their vision.  Fears of medical complications will start to influence wear time for some patients.  Let me ease some fears and emphasizes some good practices.  

Replacement schedules with contact lenses are a crucial step in staying in line with healthy eyes.  The doctor will recommend replacing lenses within a certain time.  Most are either daily, biweekly, monthly and a small few are quarterly.  Feel free to check online how often your brand should be replaced, in case your doctor skipped over that part during the exam. 

Lens brands are extremely important when deciding the hours of wear and continued days of wear.  If you've been refit into a higher oxygen lens in the last ten years, you're already doing a good job.  These lenses will allow the cornea to continue to breath and receive proper nutrition.  Therefore 12-14 hour wear schedules are more readily allowed in recent history, assuming patients are removing and disinfecting on a nightly basis.  However keep in mind these lenses will eventually accumulate too much debris to continue to give good comfort and safe wear.  Hence replacement, as discussed in the previous paragraph, is very important.  Older brands do not allow this freedom of wear.  The oxygen levels are much lower and sharing wear time with glasses is more often recommended.  The lower oxygen brands (which are still in high circulation) should be worn no more then 10 hours a day and skipping wear days is recommended once weekly.  I would suggest discussing a new fit with your doctor to increase your flexibility of wear.

I still generally think it's a great idea to give your eyes a break from contact lenses, regardless of brand.  Not so much for safety but to reduce any mechanical irritation the lids experience with these gentle plastics.  Allowing your body to discard any extra mucus will never hurt.  Let's say it's a recommendation of respect for your eyes and not an immediate necessity.   

See and Be Seen! at Eyed LA Optometry in Brentwood, West Los Angeles