Contact lenses can be liberating. You don’t have to deal with the discomfort of eyeglasses resting on your face and ears, your peripheral view is generally better, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they can even improve the progression of nearsightedness in children and teenagers.
However, despite their benefits, if you don’t care for and wear them properly, they may cause eye infections that can lead to long-term damage, according to the CDC. The good news is, though, that with good habits, you can most likely avoid infections.
Here are some tips to ensure healthy use of your contact lenses:
Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before handling.
Rub then rinse them with disinfecting contact lens solution.
Don’t “top off” old solution in your case or re-use solution.
Don’t sleep, shower, or swim with your lenses on.
Don’t wear your contact lenses longer than your eye doctor instructed.
The weather is warming up, making it an ideal time to get healthy by getting active outdoors and taking advantage of the in-season fruits and vegetables. As further inspiration, a slew of campaigns focusing on health management through exercise, diet, and regular health care are happening this month. Here are a few to get you started:
April is Defeat Diabetes Month, sponsored by the Defeat Diabetes Foundation. As part of the campaign, the Foundation is challenging participants to track how many activities and good habits they candevelop this month. The website www.defeatdiabetes.org has an activity calendar of daily suggestions to stay active and eat well; for example, plant your own garden, try papaya and asparagus, go hiking, visit your doctor for a check-up, and explore a wildlife refuge.
According to volunteer eye health and safety organization Prevent Blindness, more women than men have eye disease. In an effort to educate women about preserving their vision, Prevent Blindness has designated this month as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. From using cosmetics safely and wearing UV-blocking sunglasses to making regular optometry visits and learning about your family history of possible eye disease, there are many ways to take care of your vision. Find out more about the event and women’s eye care by visiting the Prevent Blindness website at www.preventblindness.org.
What is occupational therapy? Find out during National Occupational Therapy Month, founded by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The event recognizes the important role occupational therapists play in helping people return to everyday activities after injuries, assisting children with disabilities participate in school and social situations, and enabling the elderly to stay as independent as possible. Learn more about occupational therapy and the month long celebration at the AOTA website, www.aota.org.
Glaucoma. It’s called the “sneak thief of sight” because it can strike without symptoms and lead to permanent blindness.
The good news is that blindness from the disease is preventable. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month—a time to understand the disease and take important steps to guard yourself from its serious effects. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, if detected early, it can be treated with medication or surgery to slow down or prevent further vision loss.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), as much as 40 percent of a person’s vision can be lost without noticing—that’s why regular eye exams from a licensed optometrist are key. The GRF says these five tests are part of a thorough comprehensive glaucoma exam:
This month—and every month—the State Board of Optometry (Board) reminds consumers about the importance of children receiving early eye care, and how critical regular comprehensive eye exams are for Californians of all ages.
Nearly 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems that can cause them to struggle in school. Undetected and untreated vision problems can also leave a child with permanent vision damage later in life. In recognition of Child Vision Awareness Month, the Board encourages parents to make sure their children have their first comprehensive eye examination before entering school.
June is also Cataract Awareness Month, and the Board reminds consumers of all ages that early detection and treatment are critical to maintaining healthy eyesight. Regular visits to an eye care professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist) are crucial in detecting eye problems such as cataracts. According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world.
A simple eye exam can also reveal other things. It is very common for optometrists and ophthalmologists to discover dozens of other health problems including arthritis, cancer, and hypertension during regular eye exams.
Visit the Board’s website at www.optometry.ca.gov to learn more about comprehensive eye exams and the value of early eye care.
One in four school-age children suffers from vision problems. Although vision screenings done at schools help identify those kids, the screenings miss one in three with significant vision and eye health problems, according to the National Commission on Vision and Health. Also, 40 percent of the kids identified with vision problems do not receive follow-up care.
In an effort to ensure children receive appropriate eye care, the Board of Optometry (Board) has sponsored Senate Bill 402. If approved, the bill will require students entering elementary school to get a comprehensive eye examination by a physician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist. The bill passed both the Senate Education and Health committees, but was placed in suspense in appropriations.
To develop strong legislation for the next legislative session, the Board delegated a workgroup that is forming the Children’s Vision Coalition. The Coalition will work over the next year to educate the public, the Legislature, and stakeholders on the importance of comprehensive eye examinations for children.
According to the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, “Because a child’s visual system is growing and developing, especially during the 5–6 years of life, glasses may play an important role in ensuring normal development of vision.” Regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams help ensure children maintain good vision and healthy eyes for success in school and other activities.
At first it sounds convenient and cost-effective—go online, get your eyes tested, and in exchange for a fee, you receive a prescription. You take that prescription wherever you want and get your glasses or contacts. No appointments, no fuss. Over and done.
However, be aware that perfect vision doesn’t necessarily mean healthy eyes. Substituting an online refractive test for a comprehensive eye exam can mean key issues could be missed and you could be putting your eye health—and possibly your overall health—at serious risk.
An online refractive test is a service provided through a website. They are vision tests used to determine the appropriate lens power necessary to correct your vision. You take a brief test online for a fee, then receive a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses from a California-licensed ophthalmologist.
The California State Board of Optometry (Board) is one of the many healthcare-related boards that operate under the Department of Consumer Affairs. The Board, which licenses and regulates optometrists and the optometry profession, believes that routine, comprehensive eye exams are crucial. Comprehensive eye exams can reveal serious health issues such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinal tears and scarring, eye infections, and dry eye syndrome—conditions that cannot be checked or detected by an online refractive exam.
For more information, contact the Board of Optometry by phone at (916) 575-7170 or toll-free at (866) 585-2666, or visit the Board’s website, www.optometry.ca.gov.
The California Board of Optometry is recruiting Subject Matter Experts to assist in the Board’s Law Exam Development Workshops. The next workshop is scheduled for November 2, 2015.
Contribute to the profession of optometry by becoming a Subject Matter Expert and assisting the Board in upcoming workshops. Experts have the opportunity to meet and work with other licensed optometrists from around the State on the development, review, and grading of the California Law and Regulation Examination (CLRE). Many experts find the experience very rewarding and choose to return year after year.