Your Teen and Contact Lenses

Teenagers (and the parents who love them) often ask us about switching from eyeglasses to contact lenses. Whether the change is permanent or just an alternative to glasses, there are several great reasons for getting your teen into prescription contacts.

  • Freedom: Your teen may simply be tired of wearing eyeglasses, especially thick frames that slip and slide down the bridge of his or her nose.
  • Sports: Glasses don’t mix well with active sports. They can fall off. Even worse, they can break, leading to injury. Repairing or replacing broken glasses is also costly. And glasses don’t provide the peripheral vision needed during game play. The good news is that quality contact lenses solve those problems. They make it easier to wear protective goggles, too.
  • Glasses-free look: Remember your teen years? Were they awkward or smooth sailing? Maybe a mix of both! In any case, your teen may simply prefer the way he or she looks and feels without glasses.
  • Eye color change: Today’s natural–looking color contacts are very popular among teens. And they’re safe–so long as they’re prescribed by an eye care professional.

Talking About Contacts With Your Teen: Important Topics

Contacts are medical devices. Did you know that contact lenses are considered medical devices? It’s easy to understand why. The eyes are one of the body’s most important and delicate parts. That’s why what we put in and on them must be medically safe and properly fitted by an eye care professional.

Wash your hands before handling and inserting your contact lenses. Your eyes are one of your immune system’s most vulnerable points. To help keep germs away and protect your vision, follow the hand washing instructions from your eye care professional.

Handle your lenses with care. Contact lenses can tear. Never wear torn contact lenses. They can scratch your eyes leading to infection and other possible vision problems.

Consider daily disposable contacts. Clean contact lenses are key to helping keep your eyes healthy. Daily disposable lenses or “dailies” are worn for the day and thrown away before going to sleep. They offer several benefits:

  • No nighttime lens cleaning required, saving time and cleaning solution. (Particularly beneficial for teens that may forget to clean their contacts or ignore the process.)
  • An easy–to–remember wear schedule.
  • They can help people with eye allergies. Starting every day with a fresh pair of lenses means there’s less time for allergies to flair and deposits to build up.
  • They offer a self–esteem boost in helping teens succeed with their new responsibility.

Don’t share your contacts–ever! Your contact lenses are fitted and prescribed just for your eyes. Sharing contact lenses can encourage an eye infection and other vision problems.

A special caution about Halloween contact lenses. Like color contacts, novelty contact lenses are popular, especially for Halloween. As we mentioned earlier, it’s essential to have contact lenses of any kind properly fitted by an eye care professional. In fact, some lenses may not be FDA approved unless they’re purchased from a licensed professional. Wearing contacts that aren’t fitted and prescribed by a professional could harm your teen’s eyes.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment to fit your teen for contacts, or to learn more about them, please give us a call.

Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please contact our office.

Children Need Sunglasses Too

Summer or winter, what you don’t know can harm your child’s eyes! The beach, the backyard pool…even the ski slopes are very inviting but eye damage can be just around the corner. The most immediate danger is photokeratitis, a painful type of corneal sunburn linked to the bright sunlight reflected off water, sand and snow. Reflected sunlight can double the exposure to harmful UV rays. Long-term exposure to UV light can lead to cataracts, skin cancer around the eyelids and even damage to the retina.

The amount of UV that reaches earth is dependent on the latitude and elevation. More reaches the earth near the equator and at higher elevations. When the sun is directly overhead during mid day, the amount of UV reaching earth is much greater than before 10 AM or after 4 PM.

Ultraviolet damage is cumulative. Exposure to UV light, wind, and dryness can cause pingueculas. These are abnormal, but usually non-cancerous, growths on the white part of the eye near the nose. They can start in the teen years or early adulthood and can grow onto the front part of the cornea, possibly requiring surgical removal. Protection from UV exposure and wind starting early in life can help reduce the incidence of these growths. It is estimated that 80% of lifetime absorption to UV light occurs before the age of 18. Unfortunately, a recent survey found that a high percentage of parents are unaware of the potential for damage and rarely protect their children’s eyes.

Lighter colored eyes, just as lighter skin, have less pigment and are therefore more susceptible to damage from the sun. Infants are especially at risk for sun damage because of the clarity of their corneas and lenses. One of the problems with young children wearing sunglasses is that they tend to pull them off! Sunglasses made from tough, shatter-resistant, polycarbonate, are available in sizes for infants and toddlers. Some sunglasses for children even come with elastic bands built right into the frames. A variety of sun-protection hats, T-shirts and other clothing is also available for children.

Everyone, including children, should protect their eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunglasses with UV protection can help boost the eyes’ ability to filter out the damaging rays. However, sunglasses that do not block UV rays should be avoided. Sunglasses shade the eyes from the bright sun and cause the pupils to dilate somewhat. If the UV rays are not blocked by the lenses, more UV enters the eyes that if no lenses are worn.

Guidelines for selecting sunglasses for your child:

  • Sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of both types of ultraviolet rays: UV-A and UV-B. Be wary of labels that claim a product blocks harmful UV without specifying exactly what amount of UV rays they block.
  • Select sunglasses that suit children’s active lifestyles. Lenses should be impact resistant and the frames should be bendable, unbreakable and/or have snap-on temples. Polycarbonate is the most impact resistant material available and the best choice for active children. Children’s sunglasses should never be made of glass.
  • Check the lenses carefully for scratches, bubbles and distortions. Here’s an easy test for non-prescription lenses: hold the glasses away from your eyes and look through the lenses at a good horizontal or vertical line, such as a window frame. If the line appears wavy instead of straight, the glasses may actually make it more difficult to see (although some distortion may be seen with prescription lenses for corrective purposes).
  • Have your child try on the sunglasses before making a purchase. The lenses should be large enough to shield the eyes from most angles (above, below and either side) and to block light that enters in around the frames. The sunglasses should also fit snugly against the bridge of the child’s nose in order to reduce the amount of sunlight that enters the eyes.
  • Check the sunglasses periodically to make sure they fit well and are not damaged. Children often don’t complain about their vision even when there is a problem. A regular check of their glasses is a good idea.
  • Look at the amount of UV protection, lens quality, and durability to assure that you buy the right sunglasses for your child. If you have questions, always consult your eye doctor.

Sources:
1. American Optometric Association
2. Prevent Blindness America

Digital Effect on Kids’ Vision

Computer use, cell phones, and iPads have become a routine part of kids’ lives.

Surveys show the average American child spends one to three hours daily on a computer while surfing the Internet, doing homework, talking online with friends and playing video games. About 90% of school-aged children in the U.S. have access to a computer at home or in school.

And kids are starting to use computers at a younger age. Among college students who were interviewed, 20% said they began using a computer before they were 9 years old.

Is there a connection between computer use and myopia?

So how is all this computer use at a young age affecting kids’ eyes?

Many eye doctors who specialize in children’s vision say sustained computer use puts kids at higher risk for childhood myopia (nearsightedness). They point out that, though myopia affects approximately 25% of the U.S. population, nearly 50% of adult computer users with a college education are nearsighted. Computer use, especially among youngsters whose eyes are still changing, may be the reason for this disparity.

Research seems to support this theory. A study of 253 children between the ages of 6 and 10 at the University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry found a strong correlation between the amount of time young children spend on the computer and their development of nearsightedness.

Why are computers hard on kids’ eyes?

Computer use stresses the eyes more than reading a book or magazine because it’s harder to maintain focus on computer-generated images than on printed images. There is no fixed focus as there is with black on white print.

This is especially true for young children, whose visual system is not fully developed. There are special testing (Prio computer test) that some Drs. can evaluate the exact prescription necessary to relax eyes at the computer while testing on lighted computerized equipment, which minimizes the need for increased nearsighted correction.