Ellen Campbell -Grizzle - PHARMACY TODAY
BLINKING IS good for the wearers of contact lenses. Apart from the many accessories needed to make lens wear comfortable and safe, blinking provides a constant supply of oxygen under the lens and is required to maintain proper hydration.
Millions of people enjoy the functional and cosmetic advantages that contact lenses offer. While for most people contact lens wear is safe and trouble free, there is a higher risk of eye infection if you sleep with your lens in, fail to keep storage cases clean or do not care for your lens properly. You should be comfortable, see clearly with eyes that are clear and not red while wearing your contact lenses.
Blinking is an important support phenomenon. However, sedatives, hypnotics and antihistamines, found in many cough and cold preparations, decrease the blink rate. Antihistamines reduce tear volume that leads to problems for wearers of both soft and rigid contact lenses. Muscle relaxants cause droopy eyelids and incomplete blinking.
Other medicines can reduce the comfort and effectiveness of your contact lenses. Oral contraceptives may increase, temporarily, the wearer's sensitivity to and awareness of the lens while reducing the lubricating capacity of tears. However, after two to three months of oral contraceptive use or cessation, the body reaches a new equilibrium and the problem usually self corrects. If this does not occur, the lens may have to be adjusted or refitted.
Pregnancy may also produce the same effects as oral contraceptives. Also, acne preparations containing benzoyl peroxide cause tinted, soft lens to fade.
There are basically two types of contact lenses available: rigid and soft. Your ophthalmologist will select the one that is best for you. Your pharmacist can guide you through the many support products that are available. The formulation of most eye medicines affects the composition and flow of tears and therefore comfort and lens wearability. Some products are incompatible with contact lens solutions.
The following are a few safety tips for contact lens wearers:-
- always wash, rinse and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses
- clean, rinse and disinfect your lens each day immediately after removal
as instructed. Some types of lenses may require protein removal with enzyme
- do not reuse daily disposable lenses
- rinse your storage case and leave it open to dry after use each day and
- never bring contact lenses in contact with tap water
- do not lick your lenses as harmful germs can be transferred from your mouth
and cause infections
- avoid smoking or smoking areas. Nicotine and other aromatic compounds in
cigarette smoke change the texture of lenses and discolour them
- do not wear lenses during swimming
- if your eyes are painful and red, seek medical advice immediately
Visit your ophthalmolgist regularly as subtle changes can take place of which you are unaware. If you wear contact lenses, eye medication should be used only on the advice of your physician. Other medication and cosmetics can cause problems and you need to talk to your pharmacists about these.
Protect your eyes when hair sprays, spray deodorants, hair dyes and bleaches are being used. Dried mucus and tears can harden on lenses in the presence of hot air. When you are under a hair dryer or in a hot or humid area with your lenses in, blink often.
If you want to know more about taking care of you contact lenses, ask your pharmacist, you have the right to know!
Ellen Campbell Grizzle, President, Caribbean Association of Pharmacists (CAP) and Director, Information & Research, National Council on Drug Abuse, Kingston, Jamaica.