Friday, April 17, 2009

Why do we need yearly contact lens exams?

It is common to get asked why we need to do a separate service for contact lenses. Some people even wonder why it would be necessary if they are simply wearing color contact lenses. It is common to see Hollywood stars wearing cosmetic lenses to change their eye color or to make their eyes look crazy in one way or another. Other people have been wearing the same lens, or same prescription, for years. In these cases it would seem natural to ask why it is neccessary to have a doctor be the gatekeeper.

A few years ago, contact lenses were designated a medical device by the FDA. Injury, infection and abuse prompted this classification. Contact lenses increase the risk of certain complications. For instance, a lens that does not move well on the eye can 'suction' to the eye and cause inflammation that can be quite painful. While wearing contact lenses there is an increase for infection. Proper care is vital to prevent infection and there is need to be in contact with a and optometric physician incase an infection does occur. Allergy and hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the eye) are two other common complications to contact lens wear.

A thorough exam by an optometrist can identify potential problems before they occur. Careful selection of appropriate lens material and design followed by evaluation of the movement can help to prevent many of these problems. Yearly examination can then identify issues before they become serious. I had one patient recently who came into the office. He went to college in Cedar City. His mother spoke to me and indicated that he had a history of contact lens abuse. When I spoke to him it was stressed that he needed to order contact lenses because wearing lenses too long can cause complications and that new contacts cost less than fixing an eye infection. Three months later he called our office with a ragin red eye.

Contact lens wear can be a great modality. Recent studies indicate that children may have a better self image if they wear contact lenses instead of glasses. People with large prescriptions can avoid fishbowl glasses by wearing contacts. The important part is that they are managed and cared for well. That is where facilities such as Clear View Eye Care can help; they can service most contact lens fittings and issues to help maintain healthy vision.

1 comment:

jayne said...

Contact lenses that change their appearance according to the wearer's blood-sugar level could one day help people with diabetes keep track of their levels non-invasively, new research suggests.

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