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BBQ and Contacts? Worry About Something Real!

This week Cody at my office greeted me one morning as I walked in saying "did you see this?"  On her screen was a Facebook posting recounting the storyBBQ Eye?
 of a 21 year old woman who had her contact lens melt to her eye while attending a barbeque.  The story said she had been looking at the coals for 2-3 minutes when all of the sudden she just started screaming.  Her friends rushed her to the hospital only to be told she had been permanently blinded because the contact had melted to her cornea.  Cody asked, "can this really happen?"  In my 20 years in this profession, I had never heard of or seen such a thing but I thought it deserved some research.  To make a long story short, this is a hoax that first appeared on the internet in 2002 and has made periodic appearances every few years with only small changes in the story.  A quick search for any reports of such incidences in medical literature came up empty as well.  So while I do not worry about my patients grilling with their lenses on, I do have other concerns.  Today's soft contact lenses are more healthy and comfortable than ever.  Because of this, many of my patients forget that these are prescribed medical devices that when used improperly can have very painful and even sight threatening side effects.  Here are just a few tips to help you enjoy comfortable and worry free contact lens wear.

1. Stick to your prescribed wearing schedule.  Some contacts are designed to be taken out every night. Some have been designed to be worn continuously for up to 1 month.  Your doctor may also vary your wearing time depending on how your eyes handle contact lens wear.  Wear them only for as long as your Doctor prescribes them.

2. Throw your contact lenses away on time.  Many of my patients admit to trying to "stretch" their contacts to save money.  A year supply of contacts, $180, your vision, priceless!  I would bet that 80% of all the contact lens related complications I see are in patients who are trying to save money in this way.  Don't risk it.  If you get in a pinch and need a pair to get you through a month, come on in and I will give you a months supply.

3.  Clean them appropriately.  Today's newer lenses usually work better with the newer formulations of contact lens cleaners.  Many times, late day dryness can be solved by going to one of the new cleaners.  Some of my favorites are Opti-Free Pure Moist by Alcon and Clear Care by Ciba.  Bargain cleaners are usually older formulations that have not been designed to work with newer lens materials.  As usual you get what you pay for. 

4. Remember that soft contacts are sponges.  Soft contacts will absorb whatever surrounds them in the environment, concentrate it and hold it against your eye for long periods of time.  This can result in irritation.  If you are using preserved eye drops( prescribed or over the counter), work in an environment that is dirty or has chemical fumes or swim regularly with contacts in, you should probably consider a daily disposable lens.

So barbeque all you want, just be wise in caring for your contacts and your eyes because Life is Worth Seeing!


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