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Enhancing your lifestyle with contact lenses: FAQ

For those of you considering trying out contact lenses to enhance your lifestyle, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about contact lenses.

 

Can anyone use contact lenses?

Most people are eligible to use contact lenses. However, there are some prescriptions that are not suitable for contact lenses. It is best to check with your optometrist if contact lenses are right for you.

How long does it take for your eyes to get used to contacts?

It can take up to two weeks for your eyes to adjust to contact lenses. While your eyes adjust you may experience blurred vision and find yourself blinking more often than usual. The more you wear your contacts the quicker your eyes will adjust.

Can contact lenses get lost behind your eye?

Good news – it is impossible for the contact lens to get behind your eyeball and become trapped.

What is the difference between daily and extended wear contact lenses?

Daily wear contact lenses are disposed of daily after use. The benefit of daily wear contact lenses is there is no need to clean the lenses or by any solution as the lenses get disposed of after use.

Extended wear contact lenses can be worn anywhere from one week to one month depending on the type of contact. Extended wear contacts require a cleaning regimen to care for the contacts.

Can I sleep with contact lenses in?

Majority of contact lenses are not suitable to sleep in. There are some contact lens options that are approved for overnight use. It is bet to talk to your optometrist about which option is right for you.

Can I use contact lenses while playing sports?

Absolutely. One of the big advantages of wearing contact lenses is being able to use them while playing sport or when engaging in other physical activity. However it is not recommended to use contact lenses while swimming.

Do contact lenses expire?

Yes, they do. Even if the contacts haven’t been opened, they could still have expired. Make sure to always check the packaging for the expiration date.

How often do I need to update my contact prescription?

In Australia, contact lens prescriptions are valid for a maximum of 12 months. If your prescription is older than one year, it’s time for an eye test.

 

If you are interested in trying out contact lenses – make an appointment with one of our optometrists today to discuss which options are right for you.


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Diagnosing Dry Eye Syndrome

Our eyes are the most sensitive and easily disturbed part of your body. Even with slight irritation, they may start watering. Therefore, we have to take extra care in order to maintain eye health and prevent inflammation, especially with aging. It is therefore important to understand the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, and how it should be treated.

Tears & Why They’re Important

The eyes produce tears to remove irritants and to keep our eyes lubricated. Tears are made up of:

  • Mucus
  • Oil
  • Antibodies
  • Water

The above-quoted ingredients come from special glands around your eyes. An excess tear-flow from your eyes can occur due to poor tear drainage or overproduction of tears. Watery eyes are often not harmful but can be the cause of irritation. Alternatively, dry eye condition means that glands around the eyes aren’t working properly, and cannot adequately moisturise the eye.

What Happens If Tears Don’t Work Properly?

The production of tears is a natural cleaning mechanism, flushing away foreign objects that may come into contact with the eye easily. With the dry eye syndrome, the eye can not remove irritants effectively, and one of the two things can happen; insufficient or excessive production of tears. Inadequate production of tears may cause:

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Continuous discharge of mucus
  • Swelling
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity

If your eyes drops out water continuously, the result is often Reflex Tearing. This is because your eyes will send a distress signal to your nervous system to have the eyes lubricated to overcome the irritation and dryness. And as a result, excessive tear production will start.

Causes Of Dry Eye Syndrome?

There are many reasons described by science for this syndrome. However, the main ones are:

  • An unbalanced tear flow system
  • Dried tear film
  • Drug-induced side effects
  • Natural aging process
  • Menopause
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Collagen vascular diseases
  • Lagophthalmos
  • Blepharitis
  • Uneven eyelids
  • Long-term use of contact lenses

How Is The Syndrome Diagnosed?

You need to go through a comprehensive eye examination to determine the exact quality and quantity of your tears that are produced. Furthermore, your doctor will go through some more procedures to determine the exact cause of the syndrome, and those tests will include:

  • General medical history to note the symptoms and health problems
  • Environmental causes and age factor that may add more to dry eye condition
  • External assessment of the eye like the eyelid structure and blink dynamics
  • Eyelid and cornea evaluation with bright light and magnifying glasses
  • Tear abnormality along with quality and quantity difference
  • Insertion of special dyes will be performed to observe the tear flow along with changes in the outer surface

Once your optometrist/doctor performs all of the above tests, then he/she will be suggesting the best treatment based on the current situation to smoothen out your dry eye condition.

Various Types Of Treatments For Dry Eyes

There are a lot of treatments available for treating dry eye syndrome. However, here are a few that your healthcare provider will prescribe depending on the severity of your condition. These are:

  • Artificial ointments and teardrops
  • Conserving tears
  • Non-dissolving punctal plugs
  • Punctal occlusion by cautery
  • Lipiflow
  • Temporary Punctal occlusion
  • Cequa
  • Testosterone cream
  • Lifitegrast
  • Xiidra
  • Fish oil

These solutions are not to be administered without an expert optometrist’s prescription and advice. Visit us today to book your eye test consultation with our expert doctors and optometrist.


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Macular Focus in May

May is Macula month, a campaign centred around the education and awareness of macular disease.

The macula is responsible for detailed central vision, meaning we use it for activities such as reading, driving and recognising faces. It’s also responsible for most of your colour vision, so its quite shocking to learn that an estimated 1.7 million Australians have some evidence of macular disease.

Macular disease covers a range of painless conditions affecting the central retina which can be found at the back of the eye.

Conditions only affecting the macula don't lead to total blindness, instead, they impact central vision, leaving peripheral vision intact.

SYMPTOMS OF MACULAR DISEASE

You can have early signs of macular disease without knowing it. However, when symptoms do appear, they can include:

  • Difficulty with reading or any other activity which requires detailed central vision (despite wearing appropriate glasses)
  • Distortion, where straight lines may appear wavy or bent
  • Problems distinguishing faces
  • Dark patches in the central vision
  • Macular disease can affect anyone, at any age, so knowing your risks, and having regular macula checks, is the only way to protect your vision.

But how do you know if you are at risk ?

Take the 'Check My Macula' quiz and in one minute, you’ll have a better idea of your risk factors.

Take Quiz

So, if you've just taken the quiz and have any vision concerns that you think might need attention, please contact us to make an appointment or visit us online.


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How can the cold affect your eyes?

One of the most common patient complaints during the winter months is dry eyes. Cold and windy weather conditions can reduce the natural moisture in your eyes resulting in a burning or itching sensation.

Blonde woman in city wearing glasses, coat and beanieDry eye is a common visual condition which affects one in four people worldwide and is more likely to occur in women and the elderly. The medical name for dry eye syndrome is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Symptoms can include burning, scratchiness or irritation, redness, watering and even blurred vision. Although dry eye is generally not a sight-threatening condition, for those who suffer from it, it is often more than just a minor aggravation. Dry eye can be caused by insufficient tear production from the lacrimal gland or an unstable lipid layer, which is the thin oily layer on the outer most part of the tear film.

Some tips to get you through the winter months:

  • Talk to your optometrist about the best eye drops for your eyes
  • Stay hydrated, drink lots of water
  • When heating indoors try using a humidifier
  • Keep distance from blowing heat sources
  • No matter how irritated your eyes are, don’t rub your eyes

For more information on dry eye or any other eye disorder, contact your Optometrist.

 


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Can dark chocolate improve our eyesight?

Chocolate lovers rejoice!
Recent research by the University of the Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry, in San Antonio, Texas USA, suggests that eating dark chocolate could improve visual clarity.

dark chocolate in a teal bowlBars with more than 72% cacao increase ocular blood flow which enhances macular function and sharpens the ability to read words and numbers.

The new research tested people 2 hours after eating 47g of 72% Cacao dark chocolate, and again after 40g milk chocolate in separate sessions more than 3 days apart. The testing looked at various aspects of visual performance.

More than 70% of people scored significantly higher after eating the dark chocolate. The biggest improvement was in contrast sensitivity, which helps us see in low light, or when text is poorly printed. Another area that improved was visual acuity – a measure of the sharpness of vision.

Cacao beans are rich in flavanol, an organic compound which improves blood flow in the brain and cardiovascular system and aids in reducing inflammation.

Researchers proposed increases in blood flow could explain the improvements, but suggested more work needs to be done to understand the exact mechanism. In the meantime we think it sounds like a good excuse to load up on dark chocolate and do some private testing. Sounds like a delicious experiment.


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Top 10 Contact Lens Tips

Remember when you first started wearing contact lenses? You may have found it was a little daunting in the beginning. The process of inserting and removing the lenses, getting comfortable touching your eyeball and then there’s all the hygiene protocols to follow. Along the way it’s easy to forget the “must dos” for good eye health and vision. So to help you out we’ve compiled our top ten tips for contact lens wearers – you’re welcome.

  1. Wash your hands before touching your lens

If you don’t, you risk cross contamination by depositing microorganisms from your hands to the lens thus increasing your risk for infection. You could for example, end up with conjunctivitis or a more serious corneal infection, which can increase the risk of permanent vision loss. When washing your hands, use a disinfected soap and dry them with a paper towel to avoid getting lint in your eyes.

  1. Check that your lens isn’t inside out and is not torn

Wearing the lens the wrong way generally won’t affect your vision but it may feel uncomfortable. Likewise, a torn lens can cause irritation so best to keep your fingernails short to help avoid accidentally ripping your lenses. 

  1. Have eye drops on hand

Healthy eyes need to stay moisturised and contact lenses may make your eyes feel drier than usual especially if you are in air-conditioning. Your local EyeQ optometrist can recommend which eye drop will be best suited to your individual needs.

  1. Wash your case after each use

If you’re being totally honest with yourself, how often do you wash your contact lens case? (is that crickets we hear)? Contact lens cases are susceptible to bacterial growth which means if you’re not cleaning your case regularly you are likely creating a breeding ground for germs. Best practice suggests disposing of the old solution, rinsing it out with fresh solution, wiping it with a clean tissue or paper towel and leaving it to air dry face down with the caps off.

  1. Replace your case regularly

Even if your case looks brand spanking new it’s really important to replace it every three months. A biofilm can form in your case helping bacteria hide from the disinfectant in your contact lens solution which again doesn’t support healthy eyes.

  1. Store your contact lens case in a clean, low humidity environment

While it makes practical sense to keep your contact lenses in the bathroom it’s probably not the best idea (how super impractical)!

You may be surprised that cultures of contact lens cases have found faecal matter in them, which occurs when the case is kept in the bathroom without the lens caps on, flushing the toilet creates a mist of spray that settles inside the case, yuck!

  1. Only wear your contact lenses for the recommended time

Follow your optometrist’s instructions regarding the length of time to wear and use your lenses. For example, if the lenses are designed to be replaced every month don’t wear them for two. Your risk of serious eye infections increases if you overwear your contacts.

  1. Don’t sleep in your contact lenses

Unless your optometrist has advised you to do so it’s important that you don’t ever sleep in your contact lenses. Doing so drastically increases your risk of eye infection. The contact lens limits your eyes from getting oxygen and hydration which it needs to fight off any microbial invasion.

  1. Insert your contact lenses before applying make-up

Once you’ve washed your hands you should insert your contacts before applying moisturiser or make-up.  It’s easy for any residue left on your fingers to make its way into your eyes or onto your contact lenses.

  1. Consider daily disposable lenses

There are two major benefits to wearing daily disposable contact lenses. Firstly, they are super convenient as no lens cleaning or maintenance is required. You literally wear your lenses for the day and throw them out once removed. Bye-bye contact lens cases!

The other and more significant benefit is that daily contact lenses are healthier for your eyes as there’s a decreased risk of corneal infection.

 

Make an appointment to speak to our optometrist regarding your contact lens wear and cleaning practices if you have any questions or concerns.


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Top 10 Contact Lens Tips

Remember when you first started wearing contact lenses? You may have found it was a little daunting in the beginning. The process of inserting and removing the lenses, getting comfortable touching your eyeball and then there’s all the hygiene protocols to follow. Along the way it’s easy to forget the “must dos” for good eye health and vision. So to help you out we’ve compiled our top ten tips for contact lens wearers – you’re welcome.

  1. Wash your hands before touching your lens

If you don’t, you risk cross contamination by depositing microorganisms from your hands to the lens thus increasing your risk for infection. You could for example, end up with conjunctivitis or a more serious corneal infection, which can increase the risk of permanent vision loss. When washing your hands, use a disinfected soap and dry them with a paper towel to avoid getting lint in your eyes.

  1. Check that your lens isn’t inside out and is not torn

Wearing the lens the wrong way generally won’t affect your vision but it may feel uncomfortable. Likewise, a torn lens can cause irritation so best to keep your fingernails short to help avoid accidentally ripping your lenses. 

  1. Have eye drops on hand

Healthy eyes need to stay moisturised and contact lenses may make your eyes feel drier than usual especially if you are in air-conditioning. Your local EyeQ optometrist can recommend which eye drop will be best suited to your individual needs.

  1. Wash your case after each use

If you’re being totally honest with yourself, how often do you wash your contact lens case? (is that crickets we hear)? Contact lens cases are susceptible to bacterial growth which means if you’re not cleaning your case regularly you are likely creating a breeding ground for germs. Best practice suggests disposing of the old solution, rinsing it out with fresh solution, wiping it with a clean tissue or paper towel and leaving it to air dry face down with the caps off.

  1. Replace your case regularly

Even if your case looks brand spanking new it’s really important to replace it every three months. A biofilm can form in your case helping bacteria hide from the disinfectant in your contact lens solution which again doesn’t support healthy eyes.

  1. Store your contact lens case in a clean, low humidity environment

While it makes practical sense to keep your contact lenses in the bathroom it’s probably not the best idea (how super impractical)!

You may be surprised that cultures of contact lens cases have found faecal matter in them, which occurs when the case is kept in the bathroom without the lens caps on, flushing the toilet creates a mist of spray that settles inside the case, yuck!

  1. Only wear your contact lenses for the recommended time

Follow your optometrist’s instructions regarding the length of time to wear and use your lenses. For example, if the lenses are designed to be replaced every month don’t wear them for two. Your risk of serious eye infections increases if you overwear your contacts.

  1. Don’t sleep in your contact lenses

Unless your optometrist has advised you to do so it’s important that you don’t ever sleep in your contact lenses. Doing so drastically increases your risk of eye infection. The contact lens limits your eyes from getting oxygen and hydration which it needs to fight off any microbial invasion.

  1. Insert your contact lenses before applying make-up

Once you’ve washed your hands you should insert your contacts before applying moisturiser or make-up.  It’s easy for any residue left on your fingers to make its way into your eyes or onto your contact lenses.

  1. Consider daily disposable lenses

There are two major benefits to wearing daily disposable contact lenses. Firstly, they are super convenient as no lens cleaning or maintenance is required. You literally wear your lenses for the day and throw them out once removed. Bye-bye contact lens cases!

The other and more significant benefit is that daily contact lenses are healthier for your eyes as there’s a decreased risk of corneal infection.

 

Make an appointment to speak to our optometrist regarding your contact lens wear and cleaning practices if you have any questions or concerns.


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How to protect your eyes against the sun

By embracing some simple actions and making them a way of life, you and your family can safely enjoy the great outdoors while protecting the health of your eyes and the sensitive skin around them.

  1. Wear sunglasses year-round whenever you are out in the sun. Sun damage to the eyes can occur any time of year.
  2. Wear sunglasses marked category 2, 3 or 4, which provide good UV protection.
  3. Category 0 or 1 novelty or toy sunglasses with coloured lenses don't provide enough protection and should be avoided.
  4. Polarised lenses are great for cutting out reflected glare and are useful for the beach, fishing and driving.
  5. Sunglasses are also available for those who need prescription lenses and come in tinted, polarized or photochromatic (darken with the sun) options.
  6. Wear a broad brimmed hat with tightly woven fabric (no holes) to protect your face and the top of your head. Hats can block as much as half of all UV rays from your eyes and eyelids.
  7. Use a broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours thereafter. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  8. Be aware of clouds: the sun’s rays can pass through haze and clouds, so eye protection is important even when there is cloud cover.
  9. Take extra care near water, snow and sand: 80% or more of the sun’s rays reflect off these surfaces, causing them to hit your eyes and skin a second time.

We’re making it easier for you to keep your eyes protecting with our latest offer. Get $100 off sunglasses when you purchase a pair of spectacles or a 3-month supply of contact lenses.*

100 off sunglasses

*Offer ends October 31st. Not available in conjunction with any other offer. Offer can be used for both prescription and non-prescription sunglasses.


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Are your devices causing you digital eye strain?

Have you been noticing that your eyes are more irritated and tired than usual? You’re not alone. For most of us, digital devices have a strong and growing presence in our lives. Computers, tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices with visual displays can all cause tired eyes and digital eye strain, referred to as ‘computer vision syndrome’.

What is computer vision syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome is the name for a group of eye and vision symptoms that might be experienced as a result of viewing digital devices for an extended period of time.
These symptoms can include eye strain, red or tired eyes, irritation, blurred vision, double vision and headaches.

Why does screen time irritate the eyes?

For most of us, our eyes prefer to focus further than six metres away, so viewing a computer screen forces our eyes to work harder. While it’s normal for us to blink about 15 times a minute, studies have shown that we blink far less often while using digital devices resulting in dry, scratchy and red eyes.

Generally speaking, the type or font that we are viewing on a digital device can be small or unclear, and glare is emitted off the screen from the blue light. The frequency of blue light emitted from LED devices is also being researched for its long-term effects on the eye and potential impact on altering sleep cycles.

The combination of these unique characteristics, and our eyes having to work harder, can often lead to difficulty. The extent to which people experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time looking at a digital screen.

Extended periods of focusing on screens up close results in the muscles having to exert significant focusing effort to make these objects clear. As with any of the muscles in the body, they can fatigue and tire out if not given the opportunity to occasionally rest and relax. The muscles which control eye movements and focusing are typically relaxed when we look at objects in the distance.

What to do to combat computer vision syndrome

It can be hard to remember to rest our eyes, but we should all apply the 20-20-20 rule when spending time on devices. The 20-20-20 rule is shifting your focus to something other than your device every 20 minutes. Then what you focus on should be 20 feet (6 meters) away and you should look at it, for at least 20 seconds.

Let’s all remember to apply the 20-20-20 rule daily so our eyes can stay at their best for longer.

If you are still experiencing eye strain or irritation, it is best to consult your optometrist to discuss the best treatment options for you. Book an appointment easily online today.


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The Impact of COVID-19 on Eye Health

COVID-19 infected persons may develop conjunctivitis, which is characterised by sore, red, watery eyes. The eye can be a transmission route forCOVID-19 if a contaminated hand touches or rubs the eye, so it’s of vital  importance to wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The COVID-19 virus is primarily spread via person-to-person contact, through the release of respiratory droplets when an infected person breaths, coughs, or sneezes. It can also be spread via indirect contact, for example if a person touches the same object as an infected person, and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes. COVID-19 is highly infectious and spreads easily from person to person.

People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others. On average it takes 5–6 days from the time of infection for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.2 How easily a virus spreads from person to person can vary.1 The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to spread more efficiently than influenza but not as efficiently as measles, which is among the most contagious viruses known to affect people.

Can COVID 19 affect your eyes?

Yes. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified conjunctivitis as a less common symptom of COVID 19 infection.1 Conjunctivitis is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear tissue which covers the white part of the eyeball.

Cases of conjunctivitis vary from 4% to 31% among those with a confirmed case of COVID.4 Signs of conjunctivitis are typically red, sore, watery eyes. This can be accompanied by itchiness and light sensitivity.

Conjunctivitis is a common condition overall with many causes including bacteria, allergens and viruses, so your Optometrist is well trained to lookout for the signs of COVID related conjunctivitis.

 

Can COVID-19 be transmitted via the eyes?

Yes, although attaining COVID 19 infection through the eyes is much less common than through the nose or mouth. The eye is more likely to be infected secondary to the primary infection, i.,e a contaminated hand touches or rubs the eye.3 This is why good hand hygiene is so important.

 

Prevention

 To prevent infection and slow the transmission of COVID-19, the following is recommended:

  • Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel, and staying away from large groups of people, especially those with cold like symptoms i.e. coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub
  • Wear a mask when possible
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Stay home if you feel unwell

 

Take home messages

COVID-19 infected persons may develop conjunctivitis, which is characterised by sore, red, watery eyes.  Your eye care professional will be on the lookout for any such presentation and take necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease. The eye can be a transmission route for COVID-19 if a contaminated hand touches or rubs the eye, so it’s of vital importance to wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

 

References

1 World Health Organisation, “COVID-19 Clinical management: living guidance,” 2021.

2 Australian Government - Department of Health, "What you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19)," 2021.

3 Pradhan S, Vaughan M, Zhang J, et al Sore eyes as the most significant ocular symptom experienced by people with COVID-19: a comparison between pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19 states. BMJ Open Ophthalmology 2020;5:e000632. doi: 10.1136/bmjophth-2020-000632

4 Dawood AA. Transmission of SARS CoV-2 virus through the ocular mucosa worth taking precautions. 2021;22(1):56-57. doi:10.1016/j.vacune.2021.01.007