News Releases

July 9, 2001

Treat Contact Lenses With The Respect They Deserve

Media contacts: Joy H. Bell, 404-778-3711, jbell@emory.edu
Kathi Ovnic, 404-727-9371, covnic@emory.edu
Janet Christenbury, 404/727-5899, jmchris@emory.edu

(ATLANTA) Just because contact lenses are easily accessible and affordable these days doesn’t mean they should be treated as cosmetic items, says a contact lens specialist at the Emory Eye Center. Because of massive advertising campaigns by contact lens manufacturers in the past, many have come to think of contact lenses as beauty and lifestyle enhancements instead of the medical devices that they are. We can change our eye color at will with a choice of lenses widely available in shades of lavender, green, brown, blue and more.

“Contact lenses are very safe when handled and cared for properly, says Michael Ward, director of Emory Eye Center’s Contact Lens Service. “However, lack of proper hygiene or lens care can put the patient at risk of serious ocular infections.”

At a recent weekend flea market in Georgia consumers were seen trying on cosmetic contact lenses at a vendor’s booth. There were no sanitary practices being followed, and there was obviously no medical personnel on hand to instruct these consumers. These lenses— displayed in multiple colors and with designs such as bats, spiders, etc.—have become popular, especially among teens around Halloween.

Unfortunately, many of these teens also swap the lenses, and therefore are at great risk of eye infections. In addition, these lenses are not “fitted” to the consumers’ eyes. Improperly fitted contact lenses can result in ocular injury and inflammation.

“Contact lenses are controlled by the same law as prescription drugs,” says Ward. “They should only be dispensed by prescription and with proper instructions as to care and use,” he says. “It is not in the patients’ best interests to think of them as anything other than a medical device that requires proper disinfection and care. At Emory Eye Center our patients receive tailored instruction as to the use and care of their particular lenses.

“Another problem with these “fun” lenses is that they often limit the amount of light entering the eye,” says Ward. “The visual field is often also restricted, making ones’ peripheral (side) vision limited. Some lenses are so dark that those wearing them should avoid driving at night,” he concludes.

Proper care for contact lenses includes the following guidelines:

Prior to handling lenses

• Wash hands with non-perfumed, non-deodorant hand soap (Ivory, Neutrogena, Opti-Soak)
• Rinse thoroughly and dry with lint-free towel

In the evening
• Clean lenses following removal and rinse
• Store overnight in a clean case with fresh disinfecting/storage solution

In the morning
• Rinse the lens case with HOT water following contact lens placement in the eye
• Leave the lids off to allow the case to air dry
• Once each week the case should be scalded (drop in microwaved water that has come to the boiling point) to shock any microorganisms that may grow in the case

In short, good hygiene and the use of proper lens care products make contact lens wear safe and enjoyable. And remember—avoid those flea market contact lenses.

Media Contact: Joy H. Bell
jbell@emory.edu
404-778-3711

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