Halloween Contact Lenses and Special-Effect Lenses

Want to look like a vampire? Or show your support of your favorite professional sports team by wearing its logo on your eyes? You can do this and more with decorative special-effect contact lenses.

Special-effect contacts — including black contact lenses, Halloween contact lenses and other “crazy” lenses — are soft contact lenses that are available for theatrical and novelty uses.

Just like colored contact lenses, special-effect (FX) or crazy contacts can be used whether or not you normally wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, because most types are available both with and without lens powers to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism<

It’s important to note that all contact lenses, including plano Halloween contacts and any other special-effects contacts, are classified as medical devices by the FDA and require a valid contact lens prescription from a licensed eye care practitioner.

Theatrical or novelty lenses are safe to wear — but only when they are properly prescribed and cared for, and purchased from a legitimate source. Bacterial eye infections from contaminated, poorly fitted or improperly worn special-effect contact lenses can occur rapidly, causing a painful corneal ulcer and even blindness.

Putting the finishing touch to your Halloween costume is not worth a sight-threatening eye infection from improper contact lens use.

How Do Special-Effect Contacts Work?

Special-effect contact lenses have an opaque (non-transparent) tint to completely mask your natural eye color and are available in a wide variety of dramatic colors and designs. The center of the lens, which lies over your pupil, is clear so you can see.

Most novelty or costume contact lenses cover just the colored portion of your eye (iris), but special-effect scleral lenses, like all-black, red, yellow or white contacts, cover both the iris and the “white” (sclera) of your eyes to create a truly haunting look.

Special Effects Contact Lenses: Trends And Designs

Black sclera contact lenses, white contact lenses, wild eyes, cat eyes — whichever you choose, there’s a huge array of Halloween contact lenses to add the ultimate finishing touch to your Halloween costume.

Current trends in theatrical or novelty contact lenses are inspired by movies and cult TV shows.

These include the popular black, white and yellow special-effect scleral contact lenses, as worn on the cult TV show True Blood; red and amber colored contacts like those worn in Twilight, New Moon and Breaking Dawn; and Goth contact lenses in patterns of red, black, white and yellow which channel The Exorcist.

Other movie character special-effect lenses include vivid green “Mad Hatter” colored contacts inspired by the movie Alice in Wonderland, yellow “alien” contacts as featured in Avatar and even yellow cat-eyes like those seen in Harry Potter.

Crazy contact lenses remain popular, too. These include zombie, vampire and other supernatural designs such as spider webs, cat eyes and werewolves — perfect for adding the “wow” factor to your Halloween or special occasion costume.

If you want even scarier looking contact lenses, there are mesh-look contacts and even neon glow-in-the-dark UV lenses!

Contacts in the Movies

Jim Carrey wearing green contact lenses in his Grinch costume.
Jim Carrey wore special-effect contact lenses by Dr. Morton Greenspoon in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

A Colorful History Of Special Effect Lenses

Special-effect contact lenses aren’t a recent fad. Morton Greenspoon, OD, a pioneer of theatrical lenses, has been providing special effects contact lenses to the film industry since the 1950s.

Dr. Greenspoon has changed Elvis Presley’s baby blues to brown for the movie Flaming Star, provided Michael Jackson’s wolf eyes for the “Thriller” music video, and received an Academy Award nomination for his work on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. His most recent film work includes Pirates of the Caribbean and the Twilight Saga.

But you don’t have to walk the red carpet to wear crazy contact lenses. With the array of special-effect lenses available today, you too can get into character and portray your favorite Hollywood star.

Do You Need A Prescription?

Yes — while novelty contacts are designed for fun, they still are considered medical devices and cannot be purchased legally in the United States without a contact lens prescription.

You must see your eye doctor for a contact lens exam to have them properly fitted and prescribed, even if you have perfect eyesight and don’t need corrective eyewear.

Contact lenses — including special-effect lenses — are not a “one size fits all.” A poor lens fit can lead to eye infection, corneal ulcer, decreased vision and even blindness.

Circle Contact Lenses

Girl with pink hair wearing circle lenses and an anime costume.
Many companies sell circle contact lenses illegally, which increases the risk of eye health complications.

Circle lenses are a relatively recent phenomenon. Also called “big eye” lenses, they make your eyes look larger than normal to produce a doll-like appearance, inspired by doe-eyed anime cartoon characters.

Issues concerning the safety of circle lenses have been well-documented in the U.S. media in recent years.

Many companies selling circle lenses in the U.S. do so illegally, either without requesting a prescription or selling unapproved lenses — or both.

To help avoid the risk of developing a serious lens-related eye infection, always ensure you are buying contact lenses from a legitimate source.

Where To Buy Theatrical And Special Effects Contacts

By law, your eye doctor must give you a copy of your contact lens prescription if you request it, which means you have the option of buying contact lenses from any eye care professional (ECP), optical chains and legitimate online retailers.

The cost of contact lenses with special-effect designs is comparable to that of more conventional color contact lenses designed to enhance or change your eye color.

Custom hand-painted designs, however, can cost significantly more.

To ensure a safe wearing experience, always buy your special-effect contact lenses from an authorized source.

Never buy special-effect contacts at any store that doesn’t ask you for a valid contact lens prescription.

Don’t buy contact lenses from a flea market, street vendor, beauty salon, Halloween store or similar setting. Such sales are illegal in the U.S., and for good reasons:

  • You might be getting unsafe products that are not FDA-approved for sale in the U.S. Don’t risk your eyes on products that may have been manufactured improperly or don’t have sterile packaging.
  • Even wearing FDA-approved lenses can be dangerous, if they haven’t been specifically fitted to your eyes. Poor-fitting contact lenses can cause serious vision problems, corneal abrasions and infections. Plus, they probably won’t be comfortable to wear!

Watch this video by the FDA on improper use of decorative contact lenses.

According to a 2015 consumer survey sponsored by the American Optometric Association (AOA), 26 percent of Americans who purchased non-corrective color or special-effect contact lenses did not have a valid prescription for the lenses from an eye doctor.

Also, a study published recently in the professional journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science found that people wearing cosmetic contact lenses (defined as decorative, color and non-corrective lenses, often obtained without a prescription) had more than a 16 times greater risk of developing an eye infection than people wearing standard corrective contact lenses prescribed by an eye doctor.

Safety Checklist

  1. Visit your eye doctor for a contact lens exam, fitting and prescription (regardless of whether you need vision correction).
  2. Buy contact lenses from a licensed ECP or an eyewear retailer that requires you to have a prescription. Never buy contact lenses from an unlicensed source that doesn’t require a prescription. Doing so greatly increases your risk of serious eye problems.
  3. Always follow your ECP’s instructions for wearing and caring for your contact lenses, and visit your eye doctor for follow-up eye exams.
  4. Never share your contact lenses! While it may seem like a fun idea to swap special-effect lenses with your friends, sharing contacts can spread harmful bacteria and may result in serious eye health problems, including loss of vision.
  5. Keep in mind that “crazy” contact lenses generally are designed for daily wear only and are not FDA-approved to be worn overnight.
  6. If you experience any eye redness, swelling or discomfort, immediately remove your contact lenses and contact your eye doctor as soon as possible. This could be the sign of a potentially sight-threatening eye infection.
  7. Wear only hypoallergenic, non-toxic makeup. If makeup is used on a child’s face, it should be applied and removed by an adult. For removal, use eye makeup remover or cold cream, not soap.
  8. Be aware that false eyelashes also can cause eye irritation. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding safe application and removal. And read our safety information on eyelash extensions if you’re considering those, because they too can irritate eyes.

Protect Yourself And Others From Illegal Contact Lenses

Decorative contact lenses sold without a prescription at convenience stores, flea markets and online can cause serious eye infections, impaired vision and even blindness.

In October 2016, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced that ICE, the FDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) combined efforts to make several hundred seizures totaling around 100,000 pairs of counterfeit, illegal and unapproved contact lenses. The enforcement actions were conducted under the FDA-led initiative dubbed Operation Double Vision, which is an ongoing effort to protect the health and safety of the American public from illegal contact lenses.

Testing of confiscated illegal lenses revealed many had high levels of bacteria that could cause significant eye infections. Also, the coloring of some decorative contact lenses were made of lead-based materials that could leach directly into the eye.

The agency urged consumers that anyone interested in wearing any type of contact lenses should visit an eye doctor, obtain a prescription and purchase them from a licensed provider.

“A valid prescription helps ensure consumers get contact lenses that are determined to be safe and effective by the FDA. Without it, people can risk serious eye injuries or loss of eyesight for one night of fun,” said George M. Karavetsos, Director, FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations in the ICE press release.

To protect yourself and others, if you see Halloween contacts or other contact lenses being sold without a prescription online or elsewhere, report it to the FDA 

Common Eye Injuries and How to Handle Them

Some common eye injuries, such as deep puncture wounds from accidents, could require immediate treatment or surgery to prevent permanent eye damage resulting in vision loss. If you’re worried that you have injured your eye, visit an eye doctor near you.

Minor surface scratches, on the other hand, may need only simple monitoring after an initial visit to the eye doctor to make sure complications such as eye infections don’t occur.

This guide to common eye injuries can help you determine your next step following an accident, especially if you are in an emergency situation. Remember also that common sense safety precautions such as wearing safety goggles or glasses may be your best approach to preventing eye injuries altogether and maintaining healthy vision for a lifetime.

Common conditions associated with eye injury and trauma include:

Scratched Eye (Corneal Abrasion)

Corneal laceration
Eye lacerations usually require emergency care. Don’t hesitate to visit an eye doctor immediately.

Scratched Eye

Common causes of abrasions to the eye’s surface (corneal abrasions) are getting poked in the eye or rubbing the eye when a foreign body is present, such as dust or sand. Corneal abrasions are very uncomfortable and cause eye redness and severe sensitivity to light.

If you know something has scratched your eye, it’s very important to see your eye doctor or an emergency room/urgent care center to seek treatment for your eye injury.

Scratches also can make your eye susceptible to infection from bacteria or a fungus. Certain types of bacteria and fungi can enter the eye through a scratch and cause serious harm in as little as 24 hours. Even blindness can result. This is especially true if whatever scratched your eye is dirty or contaminated.

Remember also that infections from eye injuries such as scratches can originate from unexpected sources such as a baby’s fingernails or tree branches.

If you have a scratched eye, don’t rub it. And don’t patch your eye, either. Bacteria like dark, warm places to grow, and a patch might provide the ideal environment. Simply keep the eye closed or loosely tape a paper cup or eye shield over it. See your doctor as soon as possible to check out this type of eye injury.

 

Penetrating Or Foreign Objects In The Eye

If a foreign object such as metal or a fish hook penetrates your eye, visit the emergency room/urgent care center right away. You could cause even more injury to your eye if you attempt to remove the object yourself or if you rub your eye.

If possible, try loosely taping a paper cup or eye shield over your eye for protection; then seek help.

Your eye also may have corneal foreign bodies that are small, sharp pieces of a substance (usually metal) that have become embedded in the eye’s surface (cornea), but have not penetrated into the interior of the eye.

Metal foreign bodies can quickly form a rust ring and a significant scar. Your eye doctor should remove these foreign bodies as soon as possible.

Caustic Foreign Substance In The Eye (Chemical Burn)

Getting unexpectedly splashed or sprayed in the eye by substances other than clean, harmless water can be scary. Some substances burn or sting but are fairly harmless in the long run, while others can cause serious injury. The basic makeup of the chemical involved can make a lot of difference, such as:

Good, Clean Fun? Not Really

Kids at a foam party

If you or your kids enjoy foam parties, we’re going to have to burst your bubble: After a 2012 foam party held in Florida, at least 56 of the 350 attendees suffered injuries to the eyes and skin.

Eye injury symptoms included irritation, severe pain, pinkness/redness, decreased visual acuity, conjunctivitis, light sensitivity, drainage, abnormal pH, eye surface abrasions, tearing, blurry vision, watery discharge and foreign body sensation.

  • Acid. As a general rule, acids can cause considerable redness and burning but can be washed out fairly easily.
  • Alkali. Substances or chemicals that are basic (alkali) are much more serious but may not seem so because they don’t cause as much immediate eye pain or redness as acids. Some examples of alkali substances are oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and even chalk dust.

Chemical exposures and burns are usually caused by a splash of liquid getting in your eye. But they can be caused in other ways as well, such as by rubbing your eyes and transferring a chemical from your hands to your eyes or by getting sprayed in the eye by hair spray or other aerosols.

If you’re splashed in the eye, put your head under a steady stream of barely warm tap water for about 15 minutes. Just let it run into your eye and down your face.

Then call your eye doctor or an emergency room/urgent care center to see what is recommended for your eye injury. Tell the person on the phone exactly what kind of substance got into your eye and what you’ve done about it so far.

If you know your eye is at risk because it’s extraordinarily red or blurry, then just go immediately to your eye doctor or an emergency room or urgent care center after you’ve rinsed it with water. You can put a cool, moist compress or an ice pack on your eye, but don’t rub it.

Depending on the substance, the effects of chemical exposures causing eye injuries can range from minor irritation and red eyes to serious eye damage and even blindness.

Black eye
Black eyes are common eye injuries and often can be treated with an ice pack to reduce swelling.

Eye Swelling

Eye swelling and puffy, swollen eyelids can result from being struck in the eye such as from a baseball moving at a high speed.

The best immediate treatment for this type of eye injury is an ice pack.

You may have a simple black eye (bruising around the eye), but you should see an eye doctor to make sure there’s no internal damage.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhages (Eye Bleeding)

This eye injury usually looks worse than it really is. A subconjunctival hemorrhage involves leakage of blood from one or more breaks in a blood vessel that lies between the white of the eye (sclera) and its clear covering (conjunctiva).

Subconjunctival hemorrhages are quite common and can occur from even minor injury to the eye. They may be limited to a small sector of the eye, or they can extend over the entire eye, making the white sclera appear bright red.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is painless and does not cause temporary or permanent vision loss. No treatment is required. Over the course of several weeks, the blood will clear and the eye will return to a normal appearance.

Traumatic Iritis

Traumatic iritis is inflammation of the colored part of the eye that surrounds the pupil (iris) and occurs after an eye injury. Traumatic iritis can be caused by a poke in the eye or a blow to the eye from a blunt object, such as a ball or a hand.

Traumatic iritis usually requires treatment. Even with medical treatment, there is a risk of permanent decreased vision.

Hyphemas And Orbital Blowout Fractures

A hyphema (high-FEE-mah) is bleeding in the anterior chamber of the eye, the space between the cornea and the iris. Orbital blowout fractures are cracks or breaks in the facial bones surrounding the eye.

Hyphemas and blowout fractures are serious eye injuries and medical emergencies. They are caused by significant blunt force trauma to the eye and face, such as getting hit by a bat, baseball, hockey stick or puck, or getting kicked in the face.

Steps To Take In Case Of Eye Injury

If you have any eye injury, contact your eye care practitioner immediately for advice.

For any eye injury, call your eye doctor immediately for advice. Most eye doctors have emergency contact numbers for nights and weekends.

Most eye doctors have emergency contact numbers for injuries that occur after normal business hours or on weekends.

In certain extreme situations such as a penetrating eye injury or an eye knocked out of the socket, it may be better to get to the hospital immediately without taking the time to try calling anyone.

Once you are in the care of a doctor, be sure to mention if you wear contact lenses so you can be advised whether to leave them in or remove them.

Depending on the type of eye injury, the doctor may want you to flush your eye with water or saline solution. In more serious situations, you may need surgery.

Treat all eye injuries as potential emergencies, and never hesitate to contact or see an eye doctor immediately. Don’t take risks with your eyesight. Remember, you have only one pair of eyes.

Eye Injury News

Man with a stye.
Styes don’t normally require immediate care, yet some people would visit an emergency room for such a condition. If you have an untreated eye condition or even a mild eye injury, call your eye doctor right away. It may save you from having to spend several hours in a hospital waiting room.

Nearly Half Of All Eye Problems Seen At U.S. Emergency Departments Don’t Require Immediate Medical Attention

February 2016 — It’s usually better to be safe than sorry when you get injured, but when it comes to common eye injuries and conditions, many people may be a little too cautious.

That’s the conclusion of investigators at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Howard University Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, whose research was published online in January by JAMA Ophthalmology.

The researchers set out to determine the causes of visits to hospital emergency departments across the country for eye-related problems, to help policymakers allocate resources more effectively.

Cosmetic Facial Filler Injections Can Cause Severe Vision Loss, Studies Find

Injections of facial fillers to remove wrinkles between the eyebrows and from other areas of the face can cause severe visual side effects in some cases, according to two recent studies.

Woman receiving facial filler injection near her eye.

In both studies, published in 2014, researchers in South Korea evaluated vision problems occurring after these cosmetic procedures.

Facial filler injections often are used to remove wrinkles from the glabella (area between the eyebrows) and/or the nasolabial folds (skin folds on each side of the nose that separate the cheeks from the upper lip — where “smile lines” or “laugh lines” occur).

Both studies revealed that use of cosmetic facial filler injections can sometimes cause painful blindness due to blockage of arteries that nourish the retina (for example, central retinal artery occlusion or branch retinal artery occlusion; sometimes called “eye occlusions“). In some cases, retinal artery occlusion following these injections can be accompanied by brain infarction (stroke).

Patients injected with autologous fat (fat obtained from a different location on the same person’s body) had worse visual outcomes and greater risk of stroke than those who were injected with hyaluronic acid or collagen. (Hyaluronic acid is a viscous fluid naturally present in the human body, particularly in the eyes and joints. Collagen is protein found in connective tissue throughout the body, including in the cornea.)

The study authors concluded that cosmetic filler injections between the eyebrows and for “smile lines” can sometimes cause painful blindness or even stroke, especially when autologous fat is used.

People who experience eye pain after cosmetic facial filler injections should undergo a dilated eye exam and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they said.

They added that caution should be used during cosmetic facial filler injections, and physicians should be aware of various possible complications afterward. — G.H.

The Benefits of Daily Contact Lenses

When we conduct a contact lens evaluation and fitting in our office, your personal preferences and routines help determine which lens replacement schedule we recommend. The most common replacement schedules are every day, every two weeks, or every month. Each schedule has its strong points.

The benefits of daily lenses are:

  • You never have to clean them. No nightly cleaning routine. No parade of lens solution bottles. At the end of a long day, just toss the lenses out and go to bed.
  • An easy–to–remember wear and replacement schedule. No more calendar reminders to replace your contacts. You start every morning with a fresh pair.
  • They may help with eye allergies and protein build–up. With less time for allergens and protein deposits to build up, daily contacts give these irritants less of a chance to cause eye discomfort or other problems. Also, a fresh, smooth lens surface every day is gentler on irritated eyes.
  • A great fit for teenagers. Between school, sports, and social lives, teenagers are apt to forget or ignore cleaning and changing their contacts. And that can lead to problems like lenses that irritate the eyes and eye infections. Dailies make cleaning unnecessary and changing lenses a breeze.

Greater Convenience Also Means You Might Need To Buy More Lenses

Because you use daily lenses only for a day and then throw them away, if you wear your lenses every day, you’ll need to buy more lenses than you would if you used lenses with a two–week or monthly replacement schedule. (Some patients alternate between wearing daily contact lenses and eyeglasses, so their lens supply lasts longer.)

During your appointment, we’ll examine your eyes to find the right contact lens prescription and replacement schedule for you and your needs. If you’d like to find out if daily contact lenses are right for you, give us a call to schedule an appointment.

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.

Polarizing Lenses – The ABCs

Polarized lenses are used in sunglasses to reduce glare from reflective surfaces such as the surface of a lake or the hood of a car. They accomplish this feat through a process called polarization, much like a Venetian blind controls the amount of light entering a room through a window.

“Polarization” refers to the fact that reflected light rays (glare) are oriented in a plane that is parallel to the surface off which they are reflected. Sunlight itself is not polarized but glare created when sunlight bounces off a highly reflective surface is polarized.

Since there are many more horizontal glare-producing surfaces in the world around us, most glare we encounter will be horizontally polarized. A polarized lens has a laminated surface containing invisible vertical “stripes”. These invisible stripes act like a vertical grating and block horizontally-polarized light from passing through the lens. The illustration below explains how lens orientation affects the transmission of polarized light.

The bulb produces light that is not polarized. The polarizer lens here transmits only vertically-polarized light. The analyzer lens lets the light pass when the “stripes” are vertical but blocks the light when the stripes are horizontal.

If a wearer of polarized sunglasses tilts their head left or right while looking at a source of polarized light (glare off a lake or chrome car bumper), the same effect is seen.

For outdoor use, polarized lenses are an excellent choice. Fishermen and boaters in particular benefit from polarized lenses because they deal almost exclusively with horizontal-surface glare. Fishermen or boaters wearing polarized sunglasses can more easily see below the surface of the water to spot fish or submerged obstacles. Some experts feel that polarized sunglasses are also a good choice for snow skiers but other experts disagree. Polarized sunglasses do cut the polarized glare coming off the surface of snow but they also tend to reduce contrast and make icy patches or bumps (moguls) harder to see. Yellow or amber lenses actually increase contrast and are generally regarded as a better option for snow skiers.

There are some limitations to the use of polarized lenses. In laptop computers, the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) uses polarized light to control both brightness and color. Since they block transmission of some polarized light, polarized lenses can cause distortions when viewing the laptop screen. LCDs are also used in automobiles so clocks and other instrument displays may become temporarily unreadable.

Dry Eye Syndrome: 
Symptoms and Treatment

dry eyes syndromeDry eye syndrome is a common condition that we see most often in older adults. We call it “keratoconjunctivitis sicca.” You can call it DES, or simply dry eye.

For millions of people, dry eye is a condition in which the eyes don’t produce enough tears to adequately lubricate and nourish the surface of the eye (the cornea) and surrounding tissues. Dry eyes can also be caused because the eyes produce poor quality tears that can’t do the job they were intended for.

Why Your Tears are Important?
Tear production directly impacts the health and comfort of your eyes. Your tear glands constantly produce small amounts of tears, creating a smooth surface over the cornea. This constant lubrication is essential so your eyelids can open and close over your eyes without causing irritation or soreness.

Your tears also:

  • Reduce the risk of an eye infection
  • Wash away dirt and debris in your eyes
  • Keep the surface of your eyes smooth and clear

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome
Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:

  • Irritation
  • Itching
  • Redness (“bloodshot eyes”)
  • An increased sensitivity to light

dry eyes computer useIf you think, “Hey, that’s how I felt last week,” think back to what you were doing. We’ve all had red, dry eyes at some point. Were you in a hot, windy environment? Working in an office with air constantly blowing onto your face? Or spending too much time staring at a computer, cellphone or TV screen?

A constant breeze can dry out your eyes. And staring intently at digital displays of a TV screen can cause you to not blink as often as you should; when that happens, your eyes don’t get the moisture they need.

If you weren’t trekking across the Sahara Desert (or watching a long movie about it on TV), and you’ve noticed that your eyes feel dry more often than they used to, please let us know. We can schedule an appointment to help determine if you have dry eye and what treatment options are right for you.

Treatments for Dry Eye Syndrome
While common, dry eye syndrome isn’t something you’ll simply “get over,” like the common cold. Instead, we can prescribe one or more treatments for you to help alleviate the symptoms.

Treatments may include:

  • Applying eye drops. If your eyes are chronically dry, then applying moisture by using artificial tears throughout your day may help. Splashing water in your face won’t do the trick. That’s because your tears are more than just water. They also contain other ingredients that help fight infection and lubricate the eye to keep it moist.
  • Ointments and other medications. If you need a little help getting those tears to start flowing, we may be able to prescribe medication to help.
  • Conserving your natural tears. To keep natural tears in your eyes longer, the small ducts that allow tears to drain can be blocked with tiny silicone or gel–like plugs that can later be removed, if needed. A surgical procedure is also available to permanently close the tear ducts.

If you’re concerned about dry eye, or think you or a loved one may have the condition, give us a call to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help!

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.

Glaucoma Test – No Air Puff

We have a new glaucoma (eye pressure) test that is considered much more accurate than the “air puff test”.  There is no sensation, no eye drops, AND it can be used over soft contact lenses.  Now everyone can experience no fear about getting the eye pressure test!

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.

What is 20/20 Vision?

Most of us are familiar with the term “20/20 vision” and know it means our eyesight is pretty good.

But what exactly does “20/20” mean? Is it possible to have vision that’s better than 20/20? Is it safe to drive if you don’t have 20/20 vision? And what does it mean if your vision is 20/40? Or 20/200?

Also, can you have 20/20 eyesight and still have vision problems? (Spoiler alert: The answer is “yes.”)

It All Started With an Eye Chart

In 1862, a Dutch eye doctor named Hermann Snellen devised an eye chart that became the standardized way eye care professionals to this day determine a person’s distance visual acuity–how clearly someone sees distant objects.

The traditional Snellen eye chart has a single large block letter (usually an “E”) on the top of the chart, and 10 subsequent lines of progressively smaller block letters. Each line has more letters than the previous line to keep spacing between the letters relatively uniform.

By experimentation, Snellen determined the smallest letters a person with “normal” vision could consistently identify correctly. This became the 20/20 line on the chart. In other words, if you can correctly identify letters of this size on the eye chart (but none smaller) from a testing distance of 20 feet, you have normal (or “20/20”) vision.

Since the standard testing distance for the Snellen chart used in the United States is 20 feet, the top number in the Snellen fraction is always “20.” The bottom number varies, depending on the size of the letters on each row of the chart.

Here’s how it works

Three lines above the 20/20 line on the Snellen chart, the letters are twice as large as those on the 20/20 line. A person with normal visual acuity therefore can be expected to correctly identify these larger letters from a viewing distance that is roughly twice that of the normal testing distance of 20 feet (so, 40 feet).

If this line is the smallest line of letters a person can correctly identify at the normal testing distance, he or she has “20/40” vision–this is the smallest line of letters they can see at 20 feet, but a person with normal vision can correctly identify these letters at a distance of 40 feet.

So the larger letters on the Snellen chart are designated with visual acuity fractions that have a larger second (bottom) number, which is the maximum viewing distance from which a person with normal vision can correctly identify the letters on that line of the chart.

The “big E” on the top line of the traditional Snellen chart is the 20/200 line. If this is the smallest line on the chart you can correctly identify from a testing distance of 20 feet, your distance vision is very blurred. How blurry? A person with normal vision could stand 200 feet from the chart and still be able to identify the letter. Roughly speaking, that person with normal vision has distance visual acuity that is 10 times clearer than yours.

Is it possible to have better-than-normal visual acuity? Yes!

The traditional Snellen eye chart has three lines of letters below the 20/20 line that contain letters that are smaller than those on the 20/20 line. The letters on the bottom line are half the size of “20/20” letters.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to identify the letters on this smallest (20/10) line, it means your distance visual acuity is twice as good as that of a person with “normal” vision. In other words, you can identify these very small letters from the standard testing distance of 20 feet, but a person with normal vision would have to be twice as close to the chart–only 10 feet away–to be able to correctly identify them.

How Visual Acuity Is Measured

Visual acuity usually is measured one eye at a time. The person having their vision tested covers one eye and reads aloud the letters on each row, beginning at the top. The smallest row of letters he or she can correctly identify indicates the distance visual acuity of that eye.

The traditional Snellen chart used in the United States has 11 rows of letters, with the following visual acuity designations for each row:

A common variation of this chart is the “tumbling E” chart, which contains multiple lines containing the block letter “E,” in progressively smaller sizes and displayed in varying spatial orientations (rotated in increments of 90 degrees). This chart often is used to test the visual acuity of children who are too young to fully know all the letters of the alphabet or to test the eyesight of illiterate adults.

Instead of saying the name of letters aloud, the child or adult being tested indicates with their extended fingers the direction of the “arms” of each “E” on the chart (up, down, right or left). Studies have shown visual acuity results obtained from a tumbling E chart correlate well with those obtained from a standard Snellen eye chart.

In Europe, Snellen visual acuity testing usually is recorded with metric notations, using a standard testing distance of 6 meters. In this system, a visual acuity measurement of 6/6 is equivalent to an American measurement of 20/20, 6/12 is equivalent to 20/40, and so on.

And in case you’re wondering if your eye doctor can correctly measure your distance visual acuity in an exam room smaller than 20 feet in length, don’t worry. With the help of mirrors and a projector, your eye care professional can simulate a standard testing distance of 20 feet in a room half that size–or even smaller!

By the way, to be granted an unrestricted driver’s license in most of the United States, your best-corrected visual acuity–that is, your distance visual acuity measurements obtained while you are wearing your eyeglasses or contact lenses (if you need vision correction)–must be 20/40 or better.

Good Vision Is More Than Visual Acuity

Distance visual acuity is only one aspect of good vision. Having 20/20 eyesight does not mean you have perfect vision.

Other important components of clear, comfortable vision include the ability to change focus and maintain focus on near objects, depth perception, peripheral vision, accurate eye movement and alignment, and more.

To see the world as clearly as possible and enjoy a lifetime of good vision, be sure to see your eye doctor for regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams.

 

Picking the Right Eyeglass Frame

Don’t like wearing glasses? Maybe you just haven’t found the right frames. In addition to helping you see the world more clearly, eyeglasses should enhance (not detract from) your appearance, and should be comfortable, stylish and stay properly positioned on your face.

Here are a few essential tips when shopping for eyeglass frames:

Consider Your Face Shape

One of the most important factors to consider when selecting eyewear is to assess the shape of your face before trying on frames. Why? Because the most attractive eyeglass frames are those that complement and balance your facial features, not mimic them. In other words, if you have a very round face, rectangular frames or other frames with well-defined angles will look better than round frames (which will tend to exaggerate the roundness of your face).

There are seven basic face shapes. Though everyone’s face is a unique blend of shapes, here are some helpful tips to determine your predominant facial shape and which frame styles will look best on you:

Round

  • A round face has nearly symmetrical curves, and the height and width is nearly the same.
  • Frames with angular shapes tend to look best on a round face, and rectangular frames that are wider than they are deep will help a round face look slightly taller, giving it a more pleasing oval appearance.
Oval

  • An oval face is taller than its width and has gentle curves. An oval face generally is considered the ideal shape because of its balanced proportions.
  • A person with an oval face can wear many frame styles successfully. To maintain the attractive balance of an oval face, look for frames that are as wide as (or wider than) the broadest part of the face and avoid frames that have an excessive width or depth.

 

Oblong

  • An oblong face is longer than it is wide and has a long straight cheek line and sometimes a longish nose.
  • To make an oblong face appear shorter and more balanced, try frames that have more depth than width. Decorative or contrasting temples also can add width to the face for a more balanced appearance.
Base-Down Triangle

  • A base-down triangular face has a narrow forehead and widens at the cheeks and lower portion of the face.
  • To add width to the narrow upper third of the face, try frames that have a “cat-eye” shape and/or decorative detailing on the top half of the frame.
Base-Up Triangle

  • A broad forehead and a slender jaw line characterize this face shape.
  • To minimize the width of the top half of the face, try frames that are wider at the bottom, such as an aviator shape. Also, light frame colors and rimless frame designs tend to look good on this face shape.
Diamond

  • Diamond-shaped faces have a relatively narrow forehead and jaw line, and broad (sometimes high) cheekbones. This face shape is relatively rare.
  • To highlight the eyes and soften the cheekbones of a diamond-shaped face, try frames that are prominent or distinctive at the top of the frame (at the brow line). Oval rimless frames also look good.
Square

  • A square face has a broad forehead and a prominent, angular jaw line, and the length and width of the face are of similar proportion.
  • To make a square face look softer, try oval frames or other curved frame shapes that have more width than depth.

 

Choose a Frame That Complements Your Skin Tone and Eye Color

According to eyewear experts at The Vision Council, the best frame colors complement your natural skin tone and enhance the color of your eyes.

When considering your skin tone, understand that all complexions are categorized as having either a “cool” or “warm” color base. A cool complexion has blue or pink undertones; a warm complexion has a “peaches and cream” or yellow undertones.

There’s one exception: olive-colored skin is considered cool despite being a mixture of blue and yellow tones. Hair color also is categorized as cool or warm. Cool hair colors include blue-black, salt-and-pepper, auburn, strawberry blond, platinum blond, and silver-white. Examples of warm hair colors include yellow-blond, golden brown, black with brown undertones, and brown-gray.

Eye color is another secondary element in determining your coloring, but there are many subtle variations of eye color. For example, blue eyes can range from nearly violet (cool) to a pale blue-gray (warm). Brown eyes can vary from a light cider shade (warm) to nearly black (cool).

Once you consider your skin tone, hair color and eye color, it’s time to start picking frames that complement your coloring:

  • Frame colors that usually look best on cool complexions include black, gray, silver, blue, blue-gray, pink, and dark tortoise.
  • Frame colors that complement warm complexions include: gold, copper, brown, khaki, peach, fire-engine red, and blond tortoise.

You may be tempted to choose a frame color that “goes with everything.” But consider instead a color that truly flatters you and helps you make your personal style statement.

Make Sure It Fits

For both comfort and appearance, the size of your eyeglass frames should be in scale with your face size. Here are a few tips to make sure your eyeglasses will be comfortable and fit well:

  • For adequate width, the edge of the frames should protrude slightly beyond the width of your face so that the frame temples don’t press against the side of your head.
  • Make sure the temples are long enough so they can be adjusted properly behind your ears to keep the frame securely on your face when bending over or making quick movements. (Your optician will help with this fit.)
  • The bridge of the frame should rest comfortably and securely on the bridge of your nose, without pinching. (Frames with adjustable nosepieces enable a more customized fit.)

Remember: even if you love the “look” of a frame, if it doesn’t fit properly, you’ll be unhappy in the long run.