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Contact Lens Problems: Protecting Your Vision and Eye Health – Memphis LASIK

American Refractive Surgery Council

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Contact Lens Problems: Protecting Your Vision and Eye Health

Jun 05, 2017 08:00 am | ARSC Editor

Dr. Sheri Rowen of Vision Eye Centers is concerned that contact lenses, in particularly the rise in popularity of daily disposables, have created a cavalier attitude toward lens care, leading to serious contact lens problems. She cautions, “The prevalence of risky behavior with contacts is massive and it comes with serious consequences for the health of the eye.”

The risky behavior that leads to contact lens problems should sound familiar to anyone who wears contacts. You touch them with unwashed fingers, you don’t clean your lenses as often or as thoroughly as you should. Thirty-day lenses get used for more like 60 days and even time wearing daily disposables gets stretched when you “accidentally” fall asleep in them and just wear them for a little bit longer than you are supposed to…like 48 hours. The CDC recent reported that nearly all contact lens users are guilty of violating at least one rule of proper contact lens care and wear.

Your eyes feel it when you haven’t been diligent. Sometimes, they become so irritated it can hurt to blink. And blinking, as it turns out, is very important to your eyes whether or not you wear contacts.

Contact Lenses: One Stop In Your Vision Correction Journey

Once you are diagnosed with a vision problem, you are on a path to find the vision correction solution that works best for you. There is a life cycle to this journey as lifestyle and vision needs change with time and age. Typically, no matter what age the vision problem appears, everyone starts out in glasses. For many, particularly younger patients, the compromises of glasses in terms of looks and performance are simply not acceptable and they begin wearing contact lenses. Contact lens technology has improved tremendously over the past decade making them more convenient and, in many ways, creating the illusion that you don’t actually have difficulty seeing. The difficulty with that illusion is that it fosters the abusive behaviors that contribute to contact lens problems.

Your Eyes and Blinking

blinking is important for healthy tear film. contact lens problems.

When you blink – really blink – the lid margins press together to activate tiny glands that release a lubricating substance. The act of blinking creates a biofilm of moisture that both helps to protect the surface of the eye (it is delicate) as well as increase the focusing ability of the eye by creating a more pristine, smoother surface through which light passes into the eye. But the biofilm evaporates, and we are required to blink properly and at an adequate rate to maintain it.

“I like to remind my patients about proper blinking technique. It is important to make sure the upper and lower lid margins come together completely,” continued Dr. Rowen. “Patients should experience a surge of moisture across their eyes, an indication the glands are working to properly lubricate the eye.”

But, we humans don’t blink like we used to. Staring for long periods at devices, televisions and reading material reduces our blink rate…significantly. When we don’t blink properly, those tiny glands aren’t put to work and they get plugged up. Without the lubrication provided by the glands, the biofilm on the eye evaporates faster. So, the eye is no longer properly hydrated and, eventually, you start to feel it.

Signs of Contact Lens Problems

For many contact lens wearers, dry eye symptoms are simply an annoying, irritating compromise for the benefit of wearing contacts. The burning, stinging and redness can become routine. But, what if there is more to it – more damage – than just your eyes feeling dry?

Without proper lubrication, your cornea – the surface of your eye – is more exposed, more vulnerable to the damage from the elements: pollution, pollen, sun, dust, bacteria to name a few. While dry eye symptoms may seem relatively harmless, in fact it is a good indicator of what is known as ocular surface disease, a condition where the surface of the eye has been compromised and is not functioning properly.

Using contacts with ocular surface condition problems leads to…well, more problems. It puts pressure on you to make sure your lens care is hygienic to the point of being sterile because you are more prone to infection. But, as discussed, contact lens wearers are notorious for improper use.  It is a bit of a vicious cycle and one of the primary reasons it is vital to keeping that annual eye appointment to ensure you are safe and healthy with contacts.

“We can’t express it strongly enough: we have to see you and examine your eyes frequently,” continued Dr. Rowen. “It is the only way we can keep you safe until you are ready to move on from corrective lenses with refractive surgery.”

Your Eyes Deserve A Break

The fact is, wearing contacts – even under the best of circumstances – is tough on the surface of your eye. Fortunately, there are other options. You could, in fact, go back to wearing glasses, but for contact lens users that often feels like a step backward on the vision correction journey. Moving away from corrective lenses leads toward vision correction procedures. Most people with vision issues have some familiarity with LASIK, but only those who have taken the time to investigate and learn if they are a candidate for the laser vision correction procedure really understand its tremendous value; particularly after years in contact lenses. With the ability to treat a range of vision problems, including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, LASIK offers a permanent way to have excellent vision while eliminating the risks posed by extended use of contact lenses.

If you are struggling with contacts or contact lens problems, it is time to visit your doctor to evaluate the health of your eyes and address any ocular surface conditions. Recent studies have shown patients who chose LASIK have a reduced incidence dry eye symptoms. This may be due to the diagnosis and treatment of underlying, pre-existing ocular surface disease prior to the procedure and that having LASIK gave eyes the break they deserved from contact lenses.

With today’s advanced technologies and treatment profiles delivering excellent vision in safety, there has never been a better time to take the next step in the vision correction journey and have LASIK. If you are ready to move on from contacts and glasses, now is the time to talk to your ophthalmologist.

The post Contact Lens Problems: Protecting Your Vision and Eye Health appeared first on American Refractive Surgery Council.

Everything You Think You Already Know About LASIK Eye Surgery

Jun 01, 2017 08:00 am | ARSC Editor

Approved by the FDA nearly 20 years ago, LASIK is a household name around the conversation of vision. Need glasses? You better get LASIK eye surgery. Did the ref make a bad call? He definitely needs LASIK. Want to be a super hero and shoot lasers from your eyes? Get LASIK.

But, contrary to popular belief, LASIK is not for everyone nor does it fix every vision problem.

Let’s start with the basics about LASIK eye surgery

LASIK is an acronym for laser in situ keratomileusis and is a two-step procedure.

The first step makes a micron-thin, circular flap in the cornea – the surface of the eye. This takes just a few seconds and the surgeon uses either a microkeratome or femtosecond laser. Then, the surgeon gently lifts the flap to expose where the actual vision correction treatment will happen, just under the surface of the eye.

In the second step, a computer-guided excimer laser is used to permanently remove the microscopic pieces of tissue creating the patient’s vision problems. The flap is then laid back in place to act as a natural bandage and protect the reshaped portion of the cornea while it heals.

Since LASIK eye surgery was first approved by the FDA, more than 16 million LASIK procedures have been performed in the U.S. Further, LASIK has received more than 45 FDA approvals, treating myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, astigmatism and more.

Do they actually shoot lasers into your eyes?

Yes (and it’s pretty cool). First of all, lasers are simply beams of light that move together within the same wavelength at different speeds. For example, the femtosecond laser that is sometimes used to create the flap, is an infrared laser that pulses at 10-15 per second to create microscopic tissue disruptions within the cornea. The excimer laser used to correct your vision is a cool, ultraviolet light beam with a pulse rate of up to 1000 Hz. Notice each laser references a different color? That is because any given laser uses exactly one color of light from the wavelength spectrum.

Lasers are used in surgeries of all types because they are incredibly precise. This is important because people often refer to LASIK as “slicing” or “cutting” into the eye. The descriptions are not quite accurate. The entire LASIK procedure occurs entirely within the layers of the cornea, no other part of the eye is involved. This is only possible because lasers can be used safely without damaging surrounding tissues.

Does it hurt?

LASIK eye surgery is relatively painless because numbing drops are used to anesthetize the eye before and during the procedure. Patients generally experience some pressure from the eyelid holder used to prevent blinking, but otherwise they are made comfortable with the numbing and lubricating drops. After the procedure some patients will have mild discomfort that on average lasts about 5 hours.

Are you awake?

Yes, and that usually makes some people cringe a bit. But, in addition to the numbing drops, you are given a valium (or other sedative) to help keep you calm. Further, there is nothing that you could do being awake that would be harmful to you. If your eye moves, the laser’s tracking capabilities follow your eye. If you sneeze or abruptly move your body too much, the laser automatically turns off.

Is LASIK safe?

Is LASIK safe? This is one of the number one questions people ask about LASIK. And, it’s a good one.

  • LASIK is among the most studied elective procedures. More than 7,000 clinical studies have been conducted and published about LASIK. As a result, there is a tremendous amount of data supporting its safety and effectiveness.
  • LASIK eye surgery has one of the highest patient satisfaction rates of any elective procedure: more than 96 percent.
  • Many LASIK patients have better vision than they did with their best glasses prior to surgery.
  • In more than 40 million procedures performed worldwide, there has never been a case of blindness because of LASIK in anyone who is a healthy, good candidate.

What are the side effects?

It is normal to experience some symptoms during the healing period after LASIK.   After all, it is a surgical procedure even if it only took 15 minutes. This recovery period is to be expected and your eyes may feel a little dry, light sensitive or irritated while they heal. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your symptoms during your post-LASIK visits.

Some patients experience side effects from LASIK which generally include night vision visual symptoms such as glare, halos, ghosting and starbursts, as well as dry eye. Typically, glare, halos, ghosting and starbursts gradually resolve by themselves over a period of a few weeks or months, perhaps as long as a year. Some people require additional courses of eye drops to help reduce inflammation and/or dry eye that can contribute to visual symptoms. In rare cases, less than 5 percent of the time, additional LASIK treatment may be recommended to address residual vision problems or you can wear much thinner glasses or contact lenses.

Can anyone have LASIK eye surgery?

No. In fact, most surgeons report that upwards of 20% of their LASIK consultations are not eligible. Thin or irregular corneas as well as certain eye diseases like glaucoma are likely to disqualify patients for LASIK. Certain autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, and medications, like corticosteroids, that can impair the healing process, sometime make laser vision correction procedures a less-than-ideal choice.

Can I go anywhere and have LASIK?

A refractive surgeon (a board-certified ophthalmologist who has completed additional surgical training) performs LASIK, as well as other vision correction procedures.

Is it for me?

Only you can decide if LASIK eye surgery is right for you. Once you have determined if you are a good candidate, found a surgeon you trust and feel comfortable with, you have to make the decision if it’s right for you and your lifestyle. For those patients who want to be less dependent on glasses or contacts, LASIK technologies and outcomes are better than they’ve ever been and there is a huge body of clinical research and literature that backs it up.

The post Everything You Think You Already Know About LASIK Eye Surgery appeared first on American Refractive Surgery Council.

Is Your Vision Correction Right For Your Lifestyle? 3 Tips For Talking To Your Eye Doctor

3 Tips For Talking To Your Eye Doctor

May 22, 2017 08:02 am | Lisa Spicer

An annual eye exam is a great opportunity to talk with your eye doctor about LASIK, as well as other vision correction options. It can be hard to disrupt your schedule with an appointment to see your eye doctor. But, annual eye exams are especially important if you are one of the millions of people who require vision correction.  Taking the time to schedule – and keep – your annual eye exam appointment is the best way to keep your eyes and vision healthy. It’s also an opportunity to talk with your eye doctor about which vision correction options may be good for you. Instead of simply getting an updated prescription or trying out a new type of contact lenses, consider having a more thoughtful conversation with your eye doctor about your vision lifestyle, your vision correction needs and your current options.

To help you make the most out of your appointment, here are a few topics you can bring up with your eye doctor.

Describe any lifestyle compromises you are making with your current vision correction

For example, does your eye doctor know if your glasses get in the way of fulfilling your responsibilities, your job or lifestyle activities you may enjoy?  Have you talked about your frustrations with the limitations eye glasses put on your lifestyle?  Importantly, if you wear contact lenses, bring up any symptoms or challenges you have experienced with them since your last eye examYou really want your eye doctor to understand how your vision, and your vision correction, plays into your daily life.

If you wear contact lenses, are you disciplined about your contact lens wear and hygiene?

Let your eye doctor know if there have been changes to your life, lifestyle or schedule that make it more difficult for you to adequately care for your contacts.  One common scenario is young adults heading off to college who may not be disciplined about the care and cleaning of their contacts without their parents’ supervision. Or, another scenario may be new parents who find themselves too busy caring for their babies to be mindful about how long they are wearing their contacts each day.  You want to be sure your eyes are safe and stay healthy.  Keeping your doctor informed about changes in your lifestyle beyond your vision can help make the conversation about your vision correction needs more productive.

Are you getting what you need or want from your vision?

Your eye doctor is your partner in both your eye health and achieving your best vision.  But, the reality is, your doctor doesn’t know what you don’t tell him or her.  You can help by being upfront and vocal about your lifestyle experiences and vision correction needs to support the life you want.

It also helps to know that getting what you want from your vision is a top priority for your eye doctor.  If you are working with an eye care doctor you have a good relationship with, you shouldn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable bringing up your frustrations with your glasses or contacts.  Understanding your personal experience with vision correction, both for yourself and for your eye care doctor, is an important first step in making sure you have the best vision possible. So, if you are interested in moving beyond glasses and contacts for vision correction, trust your eye doctor and start the conversation about LASIK or other laser vision correction options.

Taking time during your annual eye exams to discuss your current vision correction options with your eye doctor helps ensure you have the best vision possible.  Talking with your eye doctor and learning if a laser vision correction procedure such as LASIK is recommended for you and your vision can be an important part of that annual exam.

Importantly, after having LASIK or any other type of laser vision correction procedure, you still need annual eye care visits throughout your life regardless of your choice of vision correction.

The post Is Your Vision Correction Right For Your Lifestyle? 3 Tips For Talking To Your Eye Doctor appeared first on American Refractive Surgery Council.