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Contact Lenses – Just the Facts

Although it’s unlikely that demand for traditional glasses will ever disappear altogether (after all, they’re stylish, comfortable, and convenient), contact lenses have been popular for decades and continue to be a great choice for eyewear. From typical prescription options, to ones that change the color of the eye, to futuristic “smart” lenses—contacts have come a long way since 1888!

Contact lenses are a great alternative to wearing glasses for many people because they offer a lot of flexibility. You can wear your non-prescription sunglasses, goggles, helmets, headbands, or other kinds of eyewear over your contacts. People with contact lenses don’t have to worry about glasses slipping off or getting knocked off with physical activity. Plus, contacts don’t fog up and won’t produce a glare in photos. Unless you’re up close to someone, you can’t even tell they’re wearing them.

There is a wide variety of contact lenses available to fit most people. Advances in recent years have created many options with cool features perfectly suited to a range of prescription types and eyewear needs.

Toric lenses are used for people with astigmatism (irregular curvature of the eye). The way that toric contacts work is they have different powers at various places on the lens and they stay in place on the eye with a weighted section so that they don’t rotate. Unlike a regular prescription contact lens that can rotate and give consistently clear vision, the toric lenses have to stay in one position. Most wearers will never notice the weighted section. Usually the “weight” is just a tiny line in the lens, adding a small amount of material to orient the lens. With the lens on your fingertip up to the light, you may be able to see the line, but it is imperceptible when the contact lens is in place on your eye.

Gas permeable lenses are not soft and flexible like the ones most people imagine when they think of contact lenses. The rigid lenses still have breathability for air to reach your eye, but they are rigid. By keeping their perfectly rounded shape, the lenses can help give clear vision to people with astigmatism. The downside is that some people find them hard to become accustomed to wearing because they feel the lens more than they feel soft lenses.

People who need reading glasses or progressive lenses can benefit from bifocal and multifocal lenses. These are designed for those who require more than one prescription in the same lens—a common need among people over forty due to common age-related vision loss known as presbyopia.

Hybrid lenses are made of a rigid middle zone and a soft outer rim. They are specially designed for high astigmatism, certain irregular corneas, and people with early stage keratoconus. People with these conditions used to be limited to glasses, but hybrid lenses make it possible for them to wear contact lenses.

Conditions such as keratoconus, dry eyes, giant papillary conjunctivitis, post-refractive surgery (such as LASIK), and presbyopia can make contact lens fitting more difficult, but most people are able to find contact lenses to comfortably fit their eyes and needs. If you want to try contact lenses, talk to your eye care professional about which options are best for you!

April Showers Bring May (and More) Allergies

Spring has arrived! The birds are chirping, the days are getting longer, and suddenly you’re experiencing itchy and watery eyes. Seasonal allergies affect an estimated 50 million people in the United States, making the spring season a little (or a lot) less pleasant for many Americans. Up to 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children report having problems with seasonal allergies. That’s no small amount of people with itchy eyes and runny noses!

Spring is what comes to mind when most people think of seasonal allergies, but allergies are not limited to April, May, and June alone. Seasonal allergies can be a disruption almost any time of year, depending on what causes your allergies and where you live. Learning how to cope with seasonal allergies and treat the symptoms can improve your daily life and make nice weather more enjoyable.

How do you combat seasonal allergies? There are some tips you can use to fight seasonal allergies. First, know what triggers them. You’re not going to frolick in a field of goldenrod if you know that it causes an allergic reaction. Ask your physician if he or she can help you narrow down what is causing your discomfort.

The most common seasonal allergens are grass, pollen, and mold. For an allergy sufferer, avoiding these allergens is the first approach to minimize symptoms. It can be difficult to avoid them, however, because they are very common in most parts of the country. Unless you’re able to move somewhere without allergens (or maybe you can live in a bubble), you’ll have to consider some additional options.

Make sure to protect your eyes. Sunglasses can help keep pollen and allergens from entering the eye to an extent, but they also minimize strain on your eyes that can be worsened during allergy season. Protection can also come in the form of wearing a protective mask while doing things like gardening or yard work.

If you must go outside to work or exercise, try to do it early in the morning or later in the evening. These are times when pollen counts are typically lower than during the middle hours of the day. Also, check pollen counts. Many weather apps and sites offer pollen counts as a way to inform allergy sufferers of the worst days for allergies, and other days when it might not be so bad.

Talk to your doctor about an over-the-counter remedy. Not a lot of people report mowing the lawn as their favorite thing to do, but gardening can be very satisfying, and a fun way to get dirty, make your yard more beautiful, or even save money by growing your own food. Seasonal allergies make rustling around in the weeds nearly impossible, however. No one wants to spend their time in nature rubbing their eyes! Your physician can give you advice on medical treatments for allergies and medication that may be available to help you keep your routine and pursue your hobbies without too much disruption.

On days when the pollen count is high, sufferers may choose to stay inside. Itchy eyes can be painful, making it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks like working on a computer screen, watching TV, or even just focusing on small details for a prolonged period of time. With many people working behind a computer for their job, just imagine the productivity that could be gained if eye-related allergies were eliminated! Thankfully, you can help keep indoor air quality clear so you can live comfortably and get your work done indoors. Simply try an air purifier. They help to reduce allergens from the air, and keep those pesky particles out of your nose and eyes. Also, make sure the air filters on your heating and cooling units are changed or cleaned regularly. Special filters exist for allergy sufferers, and they can help improve indoor air quality when changed regularly.

In addition to cleaning the air, wash the dog, your hair, and your clothes. Pollen and other allergens can easily stick to clothes, pets, and even you. A regular wash will prevent allergens from sticking around this allergy season.

The best way to combat the change in seasons is to avoid the allergen as much as possible, refrain from itching your eyes, and use artificial tears to wash away airborne allergens when necessary. Talk to your physician and eye care professional if seasonal allergies are getting in your way.

Non-Glare Lenses

Non-glare (or anti-reflective) coating is a common and cost-effective feature that many eyeglass wearers elect to have put on their lenses. It’s one of those things that you usually don’t notice or think about when you have it, but you notice when it’s not there!

Non-glare lenses are simply lenses that have this anti-reflective coating applied to the lens. Anti-reflective coating works by eliminating the reflections of light from the front and back of the lens. Typical anti-reflective coating allows 99.5 percent of light to pass through, meaning that there is only a very faint hint of light on the lens even in the brightest conditions. The anti-glare protection allows more light to come through, and results in better vision for you as well as a better view for others. When people look at you, they won’t see a glare off of the lenses of your glasses. Glare off of your glasses can ruin pictures and be distracting to people speaking with you because the glare obscures the view of your eyes.

Beyond the cosmetic reasons, the largest benefits of anti-reflective coating are sharper vision when driving at night, and more comfort when using a computer for long periods of time. You won’t experience a glare from the computer screen, and the sharper vision will mean easier focusing for your eyes.

It’s also a good idea to get the anti-reflective coating applied to the back surface of your sunglasses. This helps eliminate glare from sunlight when the sun is behind you. Most AR coatings now also include a layer that prevents water spots, thus making them much easier to clean. There are even coatings that help resist skin oils while also making smudges easier to wipe off.

Glasses that have anti-reflective coating should be given special care, as some lens cleaners contain chemicals that could damage the anti-reflective coating. With any eyewear, make sure you know how to care for your gear to give it a long and useful life. Ask your eye care professional if you have questions about care for your eye wear, or would like to know more about anti-glare options.

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