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EyeSmart Campaign Articles
The following articles are reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart campaign.
» Ophthalmologists Warn of Five Frightening Risks of Wearing Contact Lenses Without a Prescription
Zombie or devil contact lenses may elevate a Halloween costume’s fright factor, but wearing them without a prescription could result in something far more terrifying – blindness. The Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in urging Halloween shoppers to understand the risks of wearing over-the-counter contact lenses.
While it is illegal to sell non-prescription contact lenses, they can still be easily purchased at many places such as beauty supply stores, costume shops and on the web. Falsely advertised as “one-size-fits-all” or “no prescription necessary,” these lenses can cause serious eye damage. One girl became partially blind in her left eye, the top layer of her cornea having been ripped off, after a mere four hours of wearing non-prescription contact lenses she bought at a jewelry booth.
Ophthalmologists – the physicians and surgeons that specialize in medical and surgical eye care – are reminding people of five frightening consequences of ignoring the warnings:
1. Scratches to the eye – If contacts are not professionally fitted to your eye, they can scratch the clear front window of the eye. This is called a corneal abrasion, which is not only painful, but can cause permanent damage. Just ask Laura Butler, who was in severe pain due to corneal abrasions 10 hours after putting in non-prescription lenses, which “stuck to my eye like suction cups.” Treatment often involves medication and patching, but in some cases damage cannot be reversed. Butler now lives with a corneal scar, vision damage and a drooping eyelid.
2. Infection – Research shows wearing non-prescription contacts increases the risk of an infection called keratitis by 16 times. Early treatment with antibiotic or steroid drops may preserve vision, but sometimes surgery, such as corneal transplantation, is necessary. Robyn Rouse had to have that surgery after she got an infection after wearing non-prescription lenses she bought at a local store. Twelve years later, she still has blurry vision in her left eye and uses daily drops to combat dry eye.
3. Pink eye – Never share contacts because doing so can spread germs, causing conditions such as pink eye. Highly contagious, pink eye treatment depends on the cause, but typically includes antibiotic drops.
4. Decreased vision – Whether from a corneal scratch or infection, wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to decreased vision.
5. Blindness – It’s no scare tactic: wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to permanent vision loss. Julian Hamlin has had more than 10 surgeries and is now legally blind in his left eye after wearing contacts to change his eye color, a mistake he’ll live with forever.
“One night of the perfect Halloween costume isn’t worth risking your vision,” said Thomas L. Steinemann, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “If you must have contact lenses to complete your costume, avoid over-the-counter ones at all costs. Protect your vision by getting prescription lenses from an eye health professional.”
The Academy encourages the public to watch and share its “No Prescription, No Way” public service announcement that shows the serious damage that these non-prescription costume contact lenses can inflict on the eyes.
Visit the Academy’s EyeSmart® website to learn more about contact lens safety.
 Sauer, A., & Bourcier, T. 2011. Microbial keratitis as a foreseeable complication of cosmetic contact lenses: A prospective study. Acta Ophthalmologica 89 5, pp. e439-e422. DOI:10.1111/j.1755-3768.2011.02120.x
» Four Tips to Make Sure Kids’ Eyes and Vision Are ‘Grade A’ This School Year
Shares Back-to-School Tips for Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month
With back-to-school time around the corner, parents will be scrambling to buy new school supplies and clothes. As they tick off their long list of school to-dos, ophthalmologists are reminding moms and dads not to neglect one of the most important learning tools: their children’s eyes.
Good vision and overall eye health are vital to learning. WAO joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in emphasizing the importance of healthy vision to academic success during Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month in August.
Because children are still growing, being vigilant about eye health is important. The earlier problems are identified; the sooner they can be addressed. For healthy eyes and vision throughout the school year, Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology and The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend the following four tips:
1. Get regular childhood vision screenings – Children’s eyes change rapidly, making regular vision screenings an important step in detecting and correcting eye problems early. In addition to screenings for infants, the Academy recommends further vision screening for children when they are:
· Pre-school age, between age 3 and 3 and a half
· Entering school
· Experiencing a possible vision problem
For school-age children, a vision screening, which is less comprehensive than a dilated eye examination by an ophthalmologist, can be performed by a pediatrician, family physician, nurse or trained technician during regular checkups. If the screening detects a problem, the child may need to see an ophthalmologist -- an eye physician and surgeon – or other eye care professional.
2. Know and share your family eye health history – Everyone should find out whether eye conditions or diseases run in their family. Parents should share that information with the person performing the screening when possible. Examples of common eye conditions include nearsightedness, crossed eye, known as strabismus, and lazy eye, known as amblyopia. If these are not treated in childhood, they can cause permanent vision loss in one eye.
3. Watch for signals of eye problems – Parents should be alert to symptoms that could indicate an eye or vision problem, such as complaints of eyestrain, headaches and squinting when reading or performing other common activities. Other symptoms to look for include a white or grayish-white coloring in the pupil, one eye that turns in or out, or eyes that do not track in sync together.
4. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports – Eye injuries while playing sports can cause serious damage, whether by getting smacked with an elbow during basketball or hit with a hockey stick. If your child plays racket sports, hockey, field hockey, baseball or basketball, consider having them wear goggles or other certified protective eyewear.
Visit the Academy's website to learn more about common childhood eye conditions.
» No Fireworks Are Safe, Even the Innocent Sparkler Causes Thousands of Eye Injuries
Fireworks injuries cause approximately 10,000 visits to the emergency department each year, most of them involve children who suffer thousands of eye injuries.1 Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.
Every year, ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas and ruptured eyeballs. To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, WAO joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in working to debunk common myths about fireworks injuries.
Here are five fireworks myths, debunked:
1. Sparklers are safe for young children. Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers were responsible for most of the injuries to children age 5 and younger.1
2. It’s safer to view fireworks than it is to light or throw them. Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as the operators.2 Stacy Young was 100 yards away when an illegal firework sent shrapnel into her skull. Ophthalmologists couldn’t save her eye. It had to be removed.
3. Consumer fireworks are safe. Sparklers and firecrackers each account for 1,400 injuries to the eyes1
4. It’s safe to pick up a firework after it has been lit. Even though it looks like a dud, it may not act like one. When Javonte McNair, 14, picked up a previously lit firework, it exploded, severing his hand and blasting hot debris into his eye, causing severe damage to his cornea.
5. It’s not the Fourth of July without consumer fireworks. The Fourth can be complete without using consumer fireworks. The Academy advises that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.
If you experience a fireworks injury, ophthalmologists urge you to minimize the damage to the eye:
To help ensure people get the facts about fireworks, the Academy also created an animated public service announcement titled “Fireworks: The Blinding Truth”. It encourages the public and media to view and share the PSA. Visit the Academy’s EyeSmart® website for more information about fireworks eye safety.
» Taking Flomax May Cause Cataract Complications
A new study confirms the link between patients taking Flomax and complications when undergoing cataract surgery. Men taking Flomax to treat an enlarged prostate face more than double the risk for serious complications should they ened cataract surgery. In this new study, 7.5 percent of the men who had taken Flomax in the two weeks before cataract surgery had a serious complication, compared with 2.7 percent of those who had not taken the drug. That makes it a 2.3 times greater risk. This study strengthens an existing study from 2005 about risks associated with taking Flomax before cataract surgery. The 2005 study found that men taking Flomax or other alpha-blockers before cataract surgery had complications during and immediately after the procedure.
Flomax is often prescribed to treat an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, which affects almost three of four men 70 and older. Women are also prescribed Flomax, for urinary problems. Anyone who is taking or has ever taken Flomax or a similar alpha-blocker should tell his or her ophthalmologist prior to cataract surgery. If you have cataracts and know you will need cataract surgery, you should consult with your prescribing physician before starting to take any alpha-blocker. Do not discontinue taking an alpha-blocker without talking to your doctor
» Patients Won't Lose Sleep Over Blue-light-blocking Lens Implants
A new Australian study looked at whether blue-light-blocking intraocular lenses (IOLs) would disrupt sleep patterns in patients who had this type of lens implanted after cataract removal. Blue-light-blocking IOLs are often prescribed as part of risk-reduction for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for susceptible patients. However, blocking blue-spectrum light had the potential to affect the production of melatonin, which is important for sleep regulation. The researchers followed 49 patients, 18 with blue-light-blocking IOLs, comparing them to the 31 patients who received conventional IOLs, at six months after surgery. The final results showed no affect on people's sleep patterns or sleep quality in the patients with blue-light-blocking lenses.
» Eating Healthy Prevents Age-related Macular Degeneration
A new study confirms the importance of eating healthy to help protect our eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Researchers found that people whose diets had higher levels of certain nutrients - vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA - and had high levels of low-glycemic index (low GI) foods, were less likely to develop early and advanced AMD. Although the researchers say clinical studies are needed before physicians can begin recommending specific nutrient doses or dietary patterns to AMD patients, there's no need for people to delay adding health food to their shopping carts. Sources of AMD-protective nutrient include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold water fish. The GI value is based on how fast a food carbohydrates raise the body's blood sugar levels; low GI foods have less impact on blood sugar fluctuations.
AMD affects the retina, light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Advanced AMD can destry the central, detailed vision that we need to read, drive, and enjoy daily life. Although the "wet" form of advanced AMD is often treatable, there's no effective treatment for the much more common "dry" form. Eating well is a practical way to reduce AMD risk while enjoying better health.
» Summer Safety for Children
Spring is upon us and summer is right around the corner, which means children spend more time outdoors - trips to the beach, outside sporting leagues and playing in the yard. Research shows that children's eyes can be damaged from sun exposure, just like their skin. This damage may put them at increased risk of developing debilitating eye diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration as adults. It is important to make sure your children are wearing 100 percent UV blocking sunglasses. Whenever you are outside with children, remember to put a hat and/or sunglasses on them just as you would yourself. Children should be taught at a young age to wear sunglasses and hats to protect their eyes from the sun, so they will grow up with healthy sun protection habits. Keep children out of the sun between peak times - 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. - when the sun's UV rays are the strongest.
Here are some summertime safety suggestions for children.
Make sure your kids wear sunglasses.
Wear protective eyewear when playing sports.
If sand gets in your child's eyes, no rubbing.
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