Many contact lens wearers occasionally fall asleep while wearing their contact lenses – and some will even admit to doing this regularly.
Unfortunately, this practice can be very harmful to your eyes. For one, it can deprive your corneas of oxygen. While you’re awake, your contact lenses move about a millimeter each time you blink, which allows the cornea to get oxygen. When you sleep, you don’t blink, and the lenses form a barrier between your cornea and your tears, which the eyes depend on for nourishment while sleeping.
Your eyes are also more susceptible to infection if you wear your lenses to sleep. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Ophthalmology, the risk for corneal infection increased 6.5 times with even occasional overnight lens use.
Even with contact lenses that have been FDA-approved for overnight wear, the FDA still recommends that people remove these lenses overnight at least once per week. Dr. Rebecca Taylor, M.D., an ophthalmologist and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends not wearing even these lenses overnight if you can help it, as there is still a risk for infection.
For more information on proper contact lens care, visit the AAO website.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, 3 million days are missed every year in U.S. public schools as a result of acute conjunctivitis, or pink eye. The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers the following tips to help parents and teachers understand pink eye and avoid its spread in the classroom: How is pink eye spread?
Direct contact with an infected individual; usually through hand-to-eye contact.
Spread of the infection from bacteria living in the person’s own nose/sinus.
Not cleaning contact lenses properly and using poorly fitting contact lenses or decorative contacts.
Children are usually most susceptible to getting pink eye from bacteria or viruses because they are in close contact with so many others in school or day care centers and because they don’t practice good hygiene.
How can you prevent pink eye? Practicing good hygiene can help prevent the spread. If a child is infected, take the following precautions to avoid infecting others:
The child – and all people in contact with the child – should wash their hands often.
Avoid having the child touch his or her eyes.
Make sure to avoid reusing towels, washcloths, handkerchiefs and tissues used to wipe the child’s face and eyes.
Change the child’s pillowcase frequently.
Keep children home from school or daycare until their conjunctivitis has cleared, to avoid spreading the infection.
Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan has produced a series on animal eyes that is truly remarkable. The series includes macro photographs of llamas, parrots, lizards and more, and demonstrates how animals’ eyes are perfectly adapted to serve functions like cutting down glare or seeing at night.
Staring at a computer screen can make your eyes feel dry and tired. Studies show we blink about half as often while using computers and other digital screens. The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers the following tips for reducing eyestrain:
Post a note that reminds you to blink next to the screen as a reminder.
Sit about 25 inches from the screen and position the screen so your eyes are focused slightly downward.
Reduce glare by lighting the area properly and use a screen filter if needed.
Take regular breaks from the computer.
Get enough sleep at night.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule: look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
For more information, please visit the AAO’s website.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a record 21.7 million students will head to college this fall. Caring for their vision is not often top of mind for college students, but it should be. Crowded classes and dorm rooms can be a breeding ground for infectious eye diseases, and computer use and reading have been linked to poor eyesight.
Don’t shower or swim with contact lenses. Exposing contact lenses to water increases your risk of contacting an infection. Do not wear contact lenses while swimming or in the shower, and always use a sterile contact lens solution to clean contacts; never clean them with water.
Get outside often. Time spent indoors reading or using a computer has been linked to a higher risk of nearsightedness — or myopia — while other research has shown that spending time outdoors can protect vision from getting worse.
Wash your hands frequently. Washing hands with soap can stop the spread of infectious diseases, including conjunctivitis, or pink eye, which is easily spread in college dorms.
Give your eyes a rest. To help avoid eyestrain, follow the 20-20-20 rule: look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
Don’t share makeup. Bacteria grow easily in eye makeup. Avoid the spread of infection by only using your own eye makeup and throwing it away after three months. If you develop an eye infection, immediately throw away all your eye makeup.
Protect your eyes while playing sports. Sports-related eye injuries happen most often in sports such as baseball, basketball and lacrosse. To keep stray balls and elbows from hitting your eyes, consider wearing polycarbonate sports glasses.
Erik Weihenmayer doesn’t let vision loss stop him from reaching his dreams. Weihenmayer, who lost his vision to retinoschisis in his teens, became the first blind person to summit Mount Everest in 2001. Since then, he has scaled the Seven Summits, competed in mountain bike racing, and even starred in a reality show: Expedition Impossible.
Now Erik has a new challenge: to be the first blind person to kayak the Grand Canyon. He’s been training for the past several years in order to conquer the 277 miles and class IV rapids in the Grand Canyon. This is a challenge for the most experienced kayaker, let alone one without vision.
I wish Erik the best as he takes on this daring challenge.
In a recent study published in Ophthalmology, the Journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, researchers at the University Medical Center in Mainz, Germany found a strong link between levels of higher education and nearsightedness. The possible culprits of such a link may be found in the increased time spent indoors performing up-close activities such as reading or working on a computer.
To help prevent myopia experts recommend going outside more often. In the last several years, studies have shown that more time outdoors and exposure to daylight for children is associated with less nearsightedness.
For more on the connection between years in school, outdoor activities and nearsightedness, see the AAO website.
Gordon and Lulie Gund. Photo credit: Foundation Fighting Blindness
The Foundation Fighting Blindness is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding to the research providing treatments and cures for retinal degenerative diseases. To capitalize on the momentum the foundation has gained over the past decades, the foundation’s chairman and co-founder, Gordon Gund, and his family have instated the Gund Family Challenge. Over the next two years (until June 30, 2016), the Gund family will match all donations of $25,000 or more, with all of it going to research. The goal is to raise at least $50 million (with a matched donation of $50 million coming from the Gund family), but there is no cap on this offer. If you are interested in contributing, you can find more information on the Foundation Fighting Blindness website.
Photo credit: The National Center for Children’s Vision & Eye Health (NCCVEH) at Prevent Blindness
Prevent Blindness has declared August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. To help give children a head start at a successful school year, Prevent Blindness has highlighted the following programs and resources to help parents keep their children’s sight healthy. Click on the following programs for more information on each.
Eye Spy: An online eye healthy and safety education program designed specifically for children. May also be used by teachers in the classroom.
Star Pupils Eye Health and Safety Curriculum: From Prevent Blindness, this program is available for free download and provides teachers with interactive materials to help students learn the importance of eye health and safety.
Working with Medical Professionals: A resource from FamilyConnect.org, written for parents of children with visual impairments, this information sheet details the variety of eye care specialists your child may see and the qualifications and roles of each.
One in six Americans age 65 and older has a vision impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, has put together the following infographic with some facts and tips for seniors about keeping their eyes healthy and the importance of regular eye exams.