Eye Care – Your Cornea and Contact Lenses

Eye Care – Your Cornea and Contact Lenses

Today is Summer Solstice.  That means it’s the longest day of the year.  If you live in Wellington, FL that means your day is 13 hours and 49 minutes long!  Hopefully, your workday is shorter and the time you spend wearing contact lenses today is shorter as well!

Did you know?  Your cornea and the outermost layer of your skin are the only two parts of the body that actually breathe oxygen from the air?!  That’s right.  Every organ in your body is dependent on oxygen to function, and your cornea (the outermost layer of your eye that your contact lens sits on and that you see through) is highly dependent on a good oxygen supply to remain healthy and clear so that you can see.

Next question:  So if your cornea needs oxygen, what happens if you put a contact lens (AKA pieces of “plastic”) on the cornea…all day long?  If the cornea doesn’t get the oxygen it needs, it swells.  Long-term swelling leads to scarring, an increased risk for infection, and vision loss.

The Scenario:  You put your contact lenses in at 6 am when you get up.  You wear them all day long and all evening long while you catch up on Netflix.  You take them out at 10 pm and then….you close your eyes and go to sleep.  That means your eyes had about 10 minutes in between waking and going back to sleep at night of good oxygen supply (remember at night your eyelids are covering your corneas while you sleep).  And let’s not forget those who sleep in their contacts.   When you sleep in contacts, your corneas get even less oxygen, as oxygen must then flow through your contacts and your eyelids while you sleep!  Talk about suffocating!

What is the End Result of Oxygen Deprivation: New Blood Vessel Growth on the cornea, which is supposed to be clear and absent of blood vessels, leading to scarring and vision loss.

The Healthy Way to Wear Contacts:  Contact lens wear time should be determined for each patient by the eye doctor prescribing the contact lenses.  It may vary based upon a patient’s risk for infection, history of allergies, work environment, systemic health conditions, contact lens material and type, and contact lens prescription.  A contact lens with a higher power is thicker thereby letting less oxygen through it and may require a shorter wearing time.  Most contact lens wearers will benefit from wearing contact lenses made of more oxygen-permeable materials.  And most new soft contact lenses to the market are highly breathable.  The ultimate safest way to wear contacts:  A 1-day breathable and moist contact lens that you wear while at work or school and remove upon returning home to replace with your glasses.  This lens never gets dirty (it’s fresh and new every day), it allows the eye to breathe 5x more oxygen than its predecessors did, and your eyes are happy to catch some air time in the evening while you wear your glasses.  Remember, contact lenses were never meant to replace glasses, only to supplement them.

One last bonus to some of the newer 1-day lenses: they provide extra UV protection.  So when worn with your sunglasses you have extra protection from the sun on these long summer days for your eyes and your eyelids from skin cancer!

Want to see if these newer, safer contact lenses are right for you?  Ask our eye doctor at your next eye exam about lenses that provide more oxygen for your eyes.  Make an appointment today: 561-790-7290.

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