Friday, June 21, 2013

Can I open my eyes under water?

It's officially summer time for half of the hemisphere, happy summer days to all!  This means lots of outdoor activities, which usually include cooling off in various bodies of water.  Patients will start to ask about swimming with contact lenses or simply just opening their eyes under water.  Here's my advice to keep those pearly white eyes happy all summer.

Our tears are composed of two very well balanced substances; one is a watery layer and the other an oily layer.  The balance they play all day long creates a perfect PH for us to be well hydrated and comfortable.  When these layers are disturbed by malfunction of the tear glands, injuries, diseases or chemicals burns our eyes suffer great discomfort that usually requires treatment.  Eyed LA's favorite treatment for most of these issues is preventative measures to avoid the pain caused by these disturbances.  

Opening your eyes while under water, whether sweet or salty water, will throw the perfect PH balance into a frenzy.  The chemicals in pools along with the salty ocean water are almost considered a chemical burn on the surface of eyes.  Most pool/beach enthusiast end the day with red, achy eyes...especially kids who spend lots of hours playing in the cooling waters.  Once the eyes have been stripped of their balance, patients will often rub them to soothe the discomfort.  Now think of dry skin (which is precisely how the eye behaves once the balance has been disturbed) and how itching that skin will sometimes lead to scratches.  The surface of the eye will work exactly the same with rubbing, more scratches which can lead to possible infections.  Therefore keep those eyes closed or use goggles to keep the tear layers protected.  Lubricated drops (not "gets the red out" drops) found at your nearest pharmacy can help after a long day at the beach.  One my favorite brands are Systane Balance or Refresh tears, make sure to check with your optometrist before using any of these products. 

For some of you that wear contact lenses, this issue is only made worse when wearing contact lenses. The contact lens will absorb the water even more and suspend the chemicals for longer times on the surface of the eye, making the PH even worse.  Remove your lenses or simply get some really fun swimming goggles to protect your precious white, healthy eyeballs.  

"See and Be Seen" @ Eyed LA Optometry in Brentwood, West Los Angeles

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How important are good sunglasses?

That gorgeous bright orb in the sky that gives us life can also age us very quickly.  Harmful UV rays leaving the sun have been known to cause early aging along with increased health risk.  That beautiful star we call the sun must be respected so that we can take all the good it gives and leave all bad.

There are three very common conditions UV exposure will create, all of which are preventable with proper UV protected sunglasses.  The first condition, being the mildest, is called Pingueculitis.  The conjunctiva (clear surface overlying the sclera (white bone-like structure)) will protect itself from exposure by creating layers of yellow-pigmented tissue.  Resulting in a yellow appearance near the corners of the eye.  The second condition, much more aggressive and bothersome, is called Pterygium.  The conjunctiva will again protect itself with even more tissue that will grow in elevation, creating a more pink appearance that will lead to physical discomfort.  Most patients complain of a sandy, gritty feeling in the eyes.  The last condition, most common of all, is called Cataract.  Cataracts are usually seen in the elderly because they've lived in the sun most of their lives and are expected to have some as they age.  This will slowly decrease their vision until surgery is performed to extract that cataract.  However more and more younger people are seen with early cataract, especially in states like California where the sun is more intense.  

All of these conditions are in no way harmful to the health of the eye (Pterygium may grow large enough to cover an eye; however most of these patients eventually make it to our office before it gets too aggressive).  The treatments are usually surgical with low risk factors and high success rates.  Still all these measures can be avoided by using sunglasses to shade the eyes.  

Next time you head outdoors make sure to bring your UV approved shades along with some sunscreen.  Even on cloudy days UV rays will penetrate through the clouds leading to UV damage.  Not only do you look cool but will help your eyes stay young and brilliantly white like the stars in the sky.  

"See and Be Seen" @ Eyed LA Optometry in Brentwood, West Los Angeles

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I sleep in my contact lenses all the time, is that really bad???

Why?  Why are we so lazy about this simple, quick task every night?  There are extremely serious risks you’re taking every time you fall asleep in front of the television with those little pieces of plastic in your eyes.  Allow me to rant a little and I might save your vision. 

Contact lenses are all made of specific types of plastic that our bodies accept as friendly.  In the last handful of years the contact lens scientists have really constructed safer, clearer and more comfortable options with prescriptions that range quiet broadly now.  Now here's where things get complicated for adults (children are better patients here).  If this high oxygen (ie. Oasys, AirOptics, Purevision, Biofinity, Avaira) contact lens is sitting in your eye all day, collecting dirt, how could your eye possibly survive overnight infection free?  The immune system in your body will fight all the bacteria sticking to the surface of the contact lens.  Your poor white blood cells are exhausted by morning; evidence of them will be seen in large clusters of mucus.  After several days, months or years of this constant battle your eye eventually loses.  You'll wake up with a bacterial conjunctivitis, an expensive visit to your eye doctor and drops you’ll have to use often for a week during which time no contacts can be worn.  Go find your old glasses! 

Now let's pretend your immune system is super strong and you "never" get infections and have loyally slept in contacts forever. You have proven my warnings useless right?  Wrong.  As that lens gets dirtier and less permeable to oxygen it's no longer serving its purpose to keep you safe.  The cornea (front transparent surface) begins to become hypoxic (suffocating without oxygen) and starts to malfunction.  The cornea wants to stay transparent so that you can see the world, but now it’s becoming opacified (cloudy) from the excess water it can no longer excrete.  Your perfectly corrected 20/20 vision starts to fade one letter at a time.  Scarring starts to slowly form on the corneal surface, mostly irreversible damage.  This patient will often ask for more power in their prescription and I simply have to explain that it's not a prescription problem but a health issue.  Now ask yourself if those 5 seconds in front of the bathroom sink are worth permanent damage to your visual acuity.  

Eyed LA's advice, if you know yourself to always pass out with your lenses in your eyes please remove them earlier in the night.  Take the 5 seconds; remove your contact lenses with clean hands, place them into a clean case with fresh new solution (don't reuse) and walk away with the knowledge that you are protecting your eyes.  It’s that simple. 

"See and Be Seen" @ Eyed LA Optometry in Brentwood, West Los Angeles