How do you find a good contact lens exam by a skilled optometrist in Seattle? There are lots of eye doctors who offer contact lens exams in Seattle, and so many ways to research them. Sites like Yelp! and Google Maps offer access to reviews of many small businesses, including vision clinics like Cannon EyeCare.
During our contact lens insertion and removal training classes, our doctors take the time to give new wearers the information they need to make healthy choices and use hygienic practices as they build their contact lens habits.
Essential Tips for Contact Lens Care
It can be hard to know if you are doing the right things for your eyes. Doing right by your eyes is clearly important, as we’ve all got just a pair to last us from the cradle to the grave. This brief article should get you up to speed on the current medical advice for patients who wear contact lenses.
First of all, it is important to keep in mind that we did not evolve with contact lenses in the eyes. The cornea (the clear lens on the very front of your eye) needs a lot of oxygen to stay healthy long term. When patients sleep in contacts they are asking for trouble. The incidence of serious complications from contact lens use is MUCH higher in patients who sleep in lenses. For example, the odds of developing a corneal ulcer is 400% higher in contact lens patients who sleep in lenses vs those that never do.
In a perfect world, all of our patients would have their contacts out for 2-3 hours every day. This can be before bed…just take your lenses out after dinner and you’ll be fine. This is a great time to consider having a good pair of glasses, even if you primarily wear contacts. You need to be able to see well with your contacts out. What if you had to rush to the hospital at 3am? You might not have time to put in lenses. CLOW = Contact Lens Over-Wear. Please avoid CLOW to keep your risk LOW!!
Having good glasses available is also crucial in case you had an eye injury, pink eye, or ocular allergies that mean you could not wear contacts for a few weeks. Think about it. How much would your life and safety be impacted if contacts were your only way to see….and suddenly you could not wear contacts. Back up glasses are essential.
What if you wear contacts all day every day, but never sleep in them? Is that good enough?
Nope. If you take your lenses off in the bathroom and walk straight to bed…without giving your eyes some time to get full force oxygen, you are still at increased risk for infections and other serious complications. It turns out when you shut your eyes to go to sleep, the LIDS themselves are blocking the oxygen your corneas want so badly. Having the contacts out for 2-3 hours a day with contacts out while you are awake helps keep our patients safe. All things in moderation.
Replacing contact lenses on time is also important. The companies that make these lenses do extensive testing and pay millions to have results verified by the FDA for approval. If it’s a monthly lens, it’s been tested and shown to be safe for up to a month of wear (30 days, taking them out at night…not 30×24 hours straight). If it’s a daily lens, likewise, it’s been tested for one day of wear. If you push the lens beyond that, you’re running your own unfunded experiment. Do you really want to be the Guinea Pig for the nation?
If you choose to wear lenses that are not daily disposables, it’s also important to use a quality cleaning solution. It’s never safe to reuse solution or to ‘top off’ the old solution with a squirt of fresh stuff. Every morning the used solution should be dumped out and the lens case placed upside down to air-dry. Spaces that are constantly wet tend to grow fungus, which can wreck havoc on your eyes. More info to come on safe contact lens cleaning solutions in a future blog post.
Daily Disposable contact lenses vs reusables – which is better?
Many patients ask us, “what we think is better, monthly or daily disposable contacts?” The answer is typically “it depends”. There are many factors to consider, and our goal is to cover the key decision points in this brief article.
One key initial question we like to ask is ‘How often do you plan to wear contacts?’
If you think you’ll wear them only a few times a week, or when doing certain sports like trail running, skiing, or scuba diving, then the dailies are kind of a no-brainer. If you think you’ll wear contacts 5 or more days per week, then monthlies might make more sense for your budget.
There are many advantages to daily disposable contacts. Number one is convenience. You don’t have to clean them, keep track of right vs left after opening, clean your case or buy solution. When you’re done wearing them you can just wash your hands and pluck them out…and into the trash they go. Some of our patients who wear monthlies on a regular basis buy some dailies every year for when they go on trips. It’s much more convenient to throw a strip of 5 or 15 lenses in your bag than to bring a pair of monthlies, plus a pair of back-ups, plus solution and cases.
Number two is safety. The incidence of contact lens complications (eye infections, ocular inflammation, irritation, and dry eye to name a few) has gone WAY down as the use of daily lenses has gone up the last few years. A big part of this increase in safety has to do with the fact that it’s a clean sterile lens you’re using every time (remember to wash hands before touching your eyes…every time). Another factor related to safety is that we get to eliminate the harsh chemicals found in multi-purpose contact lens solutions. A final point relate to safety is this: everyone understands that you can’t sleep in a single use lens. Sleeping in contacts is not safe and should always be avoided. CLOW = Contact Lens Over-wear. Staying away from CLOW will keep your risk of contact lens complications LOW.
The down side to dailies amount to cost and availability. Cost may or may not be an issue for you. Generally speaking, if you wear contacts 4 or more times a week, you’ll probably spend less per year with a monthly replacement lens such as Biofinity, Biofinity Toric, or perhaps the Air Optix Multifocal lens. It’s important to factor in the cost of the cleaning solution, which can often exceed $100/year.
While the dailies cost about a dollar per lens (the price range is about $0.70 – $1.30/lens in 2020 as we go to WordPress) if you wear them every single day, that adds up. Let’s assume your lenses fall in the middle, at about $1 per lens. That’s $2/day….and $760/year…which is considerably more than you’d spend on monthlies, even with the cost of solution factored in. If you’re wearing them 4 days a week or less though, Dailies could be the better value. Only you can decide. Hopefully the doctor you are working with can help you make an informed decision.
Finally, let’s consider availability. It’s important to realize that even if dailies sound like the perfect fit for you, they don’t come in every prescription power. Over time this will improve, but the manufacturers tend to start offering toric lenses (for astigmatism) in the most commonly prescribed powers, and if the lens does well in the market, they will, over time, add more Rx powers to their lineup. This contrasts with toric monthlies, which generally are available in a wider range of toric powers. Even if you don’t need an astigmatic lens, if you have a high Rx, the daily lens you want may not come in your powers.
It’s a good idea to show up to your contact lens exam wearing your current contacts so the doctor can evaluate them on your eyes to see how well they work. If you are going to a new optometrist, it’s also a good call to bring documentation of your current contact lens Rx, so they know what lenses they are evaluating.
Number one, it’s important to state that the data shows you can keep wearing contact lenses.
There is currently zero evidence in the scientific literature that contact lens users have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 when compared to glasses wearers. If you have questions about safety, consult with your eye doctor.
That being said, good hygiene habits are crucial.
This includes thorough handwashing with soap and water (NEVER USE HAND SANITIZER FOR THIS) prior to handling contact lenses or touching your eyes. You should also be practicing good contact lens case hygiene by drying the case out during the day as you wear your lenses and replacing the case monthly. It’s also a good idea to clean your glasses regularly with soap and water. These habits will help keep you safe, pandemic or no pandemic.
Third, know that regular glasses will not shield you from COVID.
There is no evidence in the scientific literature that wearing regular glasses will shield you from COVID.
Fourth, Keep Unwashed Hands Away From Your Face.
It does not matter if you wear contacts or not. You should not be touching your mouth, eyes, or nose unless you’ve just washed your hands – especially during a pandemic. If you do touch your Mouth, Eyes or Nose, you need to wash your hands immediately, even if you are at home. This guidance has special implications for contact lens wearers, who tend to touch their eyes more than glasses wearers.
Finally, if you are sick, you should stop wearing contacts and switch to glasses.
As with much of this advice, this holds true whether we are in a pandemic or not. If your eyes are red and irritated, take your lenses out. If the issue does not resolve on it’s own within about 24 hours, it’s time to see your doctor. If you think you might have the COVID, don’t go see your eye doctor…it’s time to present to the Emergency Room – with glasses on, not contacts.
Are contact lenses the best option for skiing the mountains near Seattle?
Lots of the patients we see for eye exams at our Seattle vision clinic are avid skiiers. True, there are some that love to water ski behind a power boat in summer, but most are snow ski enthusiasts. It turns out that the visual demands, and limitations inherent in glasses for these sports, are quite similar. So this blog post is for any of our patients who ski, regardless of the type.
For the vast majority of us, our distance vision is not sharp enough to engage in high speed action sports like skiing without correction (glasses or contacts). There are some water skiers who think it makes sense to ski with prescription sunglasses on. Most of the time it just takes one fall to change their mind about that. Nobody wants to lose their best shades!
We hear stories all winter long about how frustrating it is for our patients to snow ski with glasses on under their goggles. I had a patient tell me recently that her glasses fogged up faster with snow goggles on than they do when wearing a surgical mask. It seems there just isn’t a great solution, until you consider contact lenses.
Contacts won’t get fogged up from your mask, your neck gaiter, or by ski goggles. In almost every case, a skilled optometrist can get your distance vision in contacts to be as clear as your glasses. For some patients, they actually see better in contacts than glasses.
Often it can make the most sense for these patients who are getting contact lenses primarily for sports usage to try daily disposable contacts. These new(ish) lenses are truly designed for single use. There are loads of advantages to dailies, such as each lens being sterile, feels new every day (because it is) and you get to eliminate the use of those harsh multi-purpose cleaning solutions.