// Eye Care & Safety Tips - Utah Ophthalmology Society

Ophthalmologists Warn of Five Frightening Risks of Wearing Contact Lenses Without a Prescription

Utah Ophthalmology Society October News Release

Ophthalmologists Warn of Five Frightening Risks of Wearing Contact Lenses Without a Prescription

The Utah Ophthalmology Society and the American Academy of Ophthalmology share patient stories, urge Halloween revelers to avoid over-the-counter lenses

SAN FRANCISCO – October 2016 – Zombie or devil contact lenses may elevate a Halloween costume's fright factor, but wearing them without a prescription could result in something far more terrifying – blindness. The Utah Ophthalmology Society joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in urging Halloween shoppers to understand the risks of wearing over-the-counter contact lenses.

While it is illegal to sell non-prescription contact lenses, they can still be easily purchased at many places such as beauty supply stores, costume shops and on the web. Falsely advertised as "one-size-fits-all" or "no prescription necessary," these lenses can cause serious eye damage. Last year, one girl became partially blind in her left eye, the top layer of her cornea having been ripped off, after a mere four hours of wearing non-prescription contact lenses she bought at a jewelry booth.

Ophthalmologists – the physicians and surgeons that specialize in medical and surgical eye care – are reminding people of five frightening consequences of ignoring the warnings:

    Scratches to the eye – If contacts are not professionally fitted to your eye, they can scratch the clear front window of the eye. This is called a corneal abrasion, which is not only painful, but can cause permanent damage. Just ask Laura Butler, who was in severe pain due to corneal abrasions 10 hours after putting in non-prescription lenses, which "stuck to my eye like suction cups." Treatment often involves medication and patching, but in some cases damage cannot be reversed. Butler now lives with a corneal scar, vision damage and a drooping eyelid.

    Infection – Research shows wearing non-prescription contacts increases the risk of an infection called keratitis by 16 times.i Early treatment with antibiotic or steroid drops may preserve vision, but sometimes surgery, such as corneal transplantation, is necessary. Robyn Rouse had to have that surgery after she got an infection after wearing non-prescription lenses she bought at a local store. Twelve years later, she still has blurry vision in her left eye and uses daily drops to combat dry eye.

    Pink eye – Never share contacts because doing so can spread germs, causing conditions such as pink eye. Highly contagious, pink eye treatment depends on the cause, but typically includes antibiotic drops.

    Decreased vision – Whether from a corneal scratch or infection, wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to decreased vision.

    Blindness – It's no scare tactic: wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to permanent vision loss. Julian Hamlin has had more than 10 surgeries and is now legally blind in his left eye after wearing contacts to change his eye color, a mistake he'll live with forever.

The Academy encourages the public to watch and share its "No Prescription, No Way" public service announcement that shows the serious damage that these non-prescription costume contact lenses can inflict on the eyes.

Visit the Academy's EyeSmart® website to learn more about contact lens safety.

i Sauer, A., & Bourcier, T. 2011. Microbial keratitis as a foreseeable complication of cosmetic contact lenses: A prospective study. Acta Ophthalmologica 89 5, pp. e439-e422. DOI:10.1111/j.1755-3768.2011.02120.x

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Sports and Eye Safety - Know the Score: Wearing Eye Protection Prevents Athletes from Getting Benched Due to Injury

​The Utah Ophthalmology Society and the American Academy of Ophthalmology offers guidance on how to protect sight during Sports Eye Safety Month in April Salt Lake City, Utah – March 21, 2016– Sports-related eye injuries cause an estimated 100,000 doctor visits each year.1 Yet, most of these injuries can be prevented by wearing eye protection. In fact, a recent study of high school field hockey players shows that traumatic eye injuries fell 67 percent after eye protection became mandatory.2 In support of Sports Eye Safety Month in April, The Utah Ophthalmology Society and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are offering athletes of all ages guidance on how to best protect their eyes.

Common sports eye injuries include corneal abrasions, lacerations and bleeding in the eye. Basketball players tend to get poked in the eye with fingers. Tennis and softball players more often get hit with fast moving balls. In contact sports like football and martial arts, more severe ocular injuries such as retinal detachment and orbital fracture occur. One-third of sports related eye injuries happen to kids.3 The good news is that 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented with the use of protective eyewear. Save your vision while playing sports by following these tips:

• Wear the right eye protection: For basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey, wear protection with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses. • Put your helmet on: For baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse, wear a helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield.

• Know the standards: Choose eye protection that meets American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. See the Academy's protective eyewear webpage for more details.

• Throw out old gear: Eye protection should be replaced when damaged or yellowed with age. Wear and tear may cause them to become weak and lose effectiveness.

• Glasses won't cut it: Regular prescription glasses may shatter when hit by flying objects. If you wear glasses, try sports goggles on top to protect your eyes and your frames.

"Virtually all sports eye injuries could be prevented by wearing proper eye protection," said ophthalmologist Philip R. Rizzuto, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the Academy. "That's why I always strongly encourage athletes to protect their eyes when participating in competitive sports." Anyone who experiences a sports eye injury should immediately visit an ophthalmologist, a physician specializing in medical and surgical eye care. For more information on sports eye safety, see the American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart® website at www.aao.org/eye-health. 

About the Utah Ophthalmology Society The Utah Ophthalmology represents 142 eye physicians and surgeons across the state of Utah. The mission of the Utah Ophthalmology Society is to advance the lifelong learning and the professional interest of Utah Ophthalmologists (Eye M.Ds) across the state of Utah to ensure that the public may obtain the best possible eye care. For more information, visit www.utaheyemds.org 

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit www.aao.org. 

1 Eye injuries in athletics and recreation, Survey of Ophthalmology. 1996. Napier, et al. 

2 Eye Protection and Risk of Eye Injuries in High School Field Hockey, Pediatrics, Sept. 2015. Kriz, et al.

3 Prevention of sports injuries, Journal of Ophthalmic Nursing & Technology, 1990. Vinger, P.F.

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Contact Lens 101: a Back-to-School Must for Teens

Studying up on proper contact lens care can prevent serious eye infections

Many children and teenagers start wearing contact lenses in junior high or high school. However, young people are notoriously poor at caring for their contact lenses, creating a potential gateway for serious eye infections that can cause impaired vision or even blindness.

Contact lenses have been implicated in nearly 25 percent of children's emergency room visits related to medical devices. Research has shown that poor contact lens care practices by teens and young people raise their risk of eye conditions such as infectious keratitis and corneal ulcers. In the most severe cases, they may require corneal transplants to restore sight.

To help prevent contact lens related eye infections in young people; the American Academy of Ophthalmology and The Utah Ophthalmology Society are providing tips for teens and their parents this August in recognition of Back to School Eye Health Month.

"I've seen plenty of young people who misuse contact lenses and end up with serious eye infections that are largely preventable with good hygiene and diligence," said Thomas Steinemann, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Parents can help protect their children's vision – and their future – by sharing the potential consequences of not caring for their contact lenses the right way, and reinforcing good contact lens habits early on."

Fortunately, many eye infections can be prevented by following simple contact lens care guidelines. Even so, experts say there are lesser known safety tips that teens with contact lenses should follow to avoid eye infections.

Four Contact Lens Tips Every Parent Should Share with Their Teens

New quarter, new case – Replacing your contact lens case every three months will help keep germs at bay. To make it easy to remember, swap out your case at the beginning of each quarter. A study from the journal Ophthalmology showed that waiting to replace lens cases after 6 months increases the risk of eye infection by nearly 5.5 times.

Just say no to H20 – You may be captain of the swim team, but you shouldn't swim, shower or go in a hot tub wearing lenses. Water from the tap might be clean enough to drink or bathe in, but it's still home to the parasite Acanthamoeba, which can cause severe eye infections resulting in vision loss. For the same reasons, do not use water to rinse or soak contact lenses or cases.

You snooze, you lose – Never sleep in your contact lenses. The same Ophthalmology study also found that even occasionally sleeping in contact lenses increases the risk of moderate to severe eye infection by 6.5 times. Unfortunately, a recent poll of nearly 100,000 people by BuzzFeed found that about 70 percent of respondents occasionally or regularly sleep in their contact lenses.

It's too late if you wait – Symptoms of eye infections include redness, pain and light sensitivity, and should be examined by an ophthalmologist immediately. Waiting to get examined or treated could lead to vision loss.

The CDC's Contact Lens Health Week runs from Aug. 24 to 28. The Academy, CDC and other eye health experts will take part in the CDC Contact Lens Twitter Chat Aug. 24 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. EDT. Join the discussion by using hashtag #HealthyContactsChat.


Emergency Department Visits for Medical Device-Associated Adverse Events Among Children, Pediatrics, 2010

Risk factors for moderate to severe microbial keratitis in daily wear contact lens wearers, Ophthalmology, Aug. 2012

Clinical characteristics of Acanthamoeba keratitis infections in 28 states, 2008 to 2011. Cornea, Feb. 2014

11 Gross Contact Lens Habits You Should Stop Doing Right Away Please, Buzzfeed.com 

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