contact lenses

Celebrate Earth Day! Recycle Your Contact Lenses

Sarah Quinn Lenses Comments Off ,

EarthRecycleIn honor of Earth Day, All About Eyes is proud to participate in TerraCycle and Bausch and Lomb’s contact lens recycling program, which will allow patients to properly recycle their used contact lenses and blister packs at our office free of charge.

In our blog post last September, we talked about the latest study highlighting the negative impact that 45 million contact lens wearers disposing of their used lenses by way of flushing them down the toilet is having on the environment. And since the lenses cannot be included with regular recycling efforts due to their small size (they get filtered out), if they’re not in the sewer system, they are ending up in our landfills. With over three billion lenses being improperly disposed of, we decided to see what we could do to raise awareness on this issue and provide a method of disposal as well.

How Does It Work?

The ONE by ONE Recycling Center box will be kept at our office. Patients are encouraged to  drop off the following items:

  • Used contact lenses
  • Opened blister packs (please remove as much water from the packs as you can)
  • Top foil

 

The cardboard boxes that contact lenses are in can be recycled through your usual recycling bins at home. Please do not drop off unopened blister packs, as those cannot be recycled at this time.

For more information on the program, see Bausch and Lomb’s website.

What Happens Next?

All About Eyes will ship the recyclable items collected in our ONE by ONE Recycling Center to TerraCycle. They will sort the items, clean them at their facility, melt down the lenses and plastic portions of the blister packs so they can be remolded into plastic recyclable products. The metal layers and foils are separated and recycled.

Additionally, for every pound we collect at the ONE by ONE Recycling Center, $1 will be donated to Optometry Giving Sight. This organization is a “global fundraising initiative that specifically targets the prevention of blindness and impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error.”

Please joins us in our efforts to help keep the Earth clean and drop off your used contact lenses and blister packs!

 

 


Benefits of Daily Disposable Contact Lenses

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When faced with how best to correct vision issues, your main options are wearing glasses or contact lenses (surgery is physically invasive and costly). While the variety of glasses are primarily fashion-oriented or purposed-oriented (i.e., sports, sunglasses, etc.), contact lens options tend to be time-oriented, as in, how long you can wear them before changing them out and cleaning them.

The American Optometric Association identifies five different types of contact lenses:

  • Rigid gas-permeable (RGP): Made of slightly flexible plastic that allows oxygen to pass through to the eyes. Corrects most vision problems but debris can sometimes get under the lenses, causing infection or injury.
  • Daily wear soft: Made of soft, flexible plastic that also allows oxygen to pass through to the eyes. Available in lenses that do not need to be cleaned (disposable). They don’t correct all vision issues, however.
  • Extended-wear: Available for overnight wear in soft or RGP lenses. Can be worn up to seven days without removal. May cause infection.
  • Extended-wear disposable: Soft lenses worn for extended periods of time (usually one to six days), then discarded. May cause infection.
  • Planned replacement: Soft daily wear lenses replaced on a planned schedule, most often either every two weeks, monthly, or quarterly. 
CDC - How to wear contact lenses

CDC – Contact Lenses

“Daily disposable contacts are healthier/better for your eyes than the two-week or monthly lenses,” says Dr. Cheryl Roell, optometrist and co-owner of All About Eyes. “We try to prescribe dailies for everyone, but especially all the kids/teens in our practice, for the health benefit as well as the ease of care. There is a higher percentage of eye infections and irritations with longer-wear contacts.”

Eye infection, known as keratitis, is an inflammation of the cornea (the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye), notes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on their website. Keratitis happens when contact lens wearers don’t clean their lenses as instructed and germs get on the lenses — and are then transferred onto the cornea — causing the infection.

Disposed of after each use, daily wear contact lenses reduce the chances of infection. Note that disposable lenses should be thrown away in the trash, not flushed down the toilet or washed down the sink, as that causes environmental problems.

Other benefits to wearing daily wear contact lenses include feeling better about your appearance, they’re excellent for participating in sporting activities, and they don’t fog up in sudden temperature changes or get smudged. And because the lenses move with your eyes, side vision tends to improve, and there aren’t any frames getting in the way of your vision. In other words, they offer a more natural vision experience to wearing glasses.

If you are interested in trying out daily wear contact lenses, please contact either Dr. Cheryl or Dr. David Roell for an appointment to learn more about this option.

 


Disposing of the Disposable Contact Lens

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When Leonardo da Vinci first sketched out the concept of a glass lens to correct vision that would cover the eye in 1508, it is unlikely that even he could have visualized the impact that the disposing of disposable contact lenses would have on the environment over 500 years later. Now that over 45 million wearers in the United States alone are using them, researchers at Arizona State University have begun investigating how wearers are disposing of their lenses.

Contact Lens Evolution
Contact lens being inserted onto eyeball.

Photo by CDC

At first, contact lenses were crafted out of glass and covered the entire eye. The heavy, thick lenses, fashioned in Germany in the late 1880s*, could only be worn for a few hours at a time. Contact lenses evolved from there in 1936, when New York optician William Feinbloom used a combination of glass and hard plastic to construct a more wearable lens. A dozen years later, the lenses switched to all hard plastic until the next evolution came in 1971 when Bausch and Lomb developed soft plastic lenses.

The first disposable lens became available in the United States in 1987, but lenses didn’t become truly disposable as we know them today, until 1995, when one-use lenses were introduced into the market.

Contact Lens Pollution

With millions of users tossing out their soft plastic lenses every day, Arizona State University researchers set out to discover where those lenses end up in the ecosystem in the first-ever study of its kind this year. According to the researchers, they “found that 15 to 20 percent of contact-lens wearers are flushing the lenses down the sink or toilet. This is a pretty large number, considering about 45 million people in the United States alone wear contact lenses, amounting to 1.8-3.36 billion lenses flushed per year, or about 20-23 metric tons of wastewater-borne plastics annually.”

The study goes on to explain that once put down the drain, lenses are then conveyed to wastewater-treatment plants, which then fragment them into microplastics that accumulate in sewage sludge. Researchers noted for that for every two pounds of sludge, a pair of contact lenses can be found.

The short-term solution: throw away your lenses in the trash. Researchers hope that with enough education and awareness paid to this issue, that in the long-term, manufacturers will develop a lens that will biodegrade on its own.

*For a complete history of the contact lens, check out Eye Topics.


Scary Eyes for Halloween? Scarier Than You Think!

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Decorative contact lenses.Halloween is nearly here! Time to get the decorations out, purchase the candy, and assemble your costume. For some, the devil is in the details and colored or decorative contact lenses can give that finishing touch to their costume.

But before you rush out to buy those cool, spooky lenses from your nearby pop-up Halloween store, consider this:  they are contact lenses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies all contact lenses as medical devices, and because of that, they are regulated by the FDA. Which means, quite simply, you need a prescription for them. You can’t just run out to the store to buy them.

Why You Need a Prescription for Decorative Contact Lenses

Corneal Infections. Tight Lens Syndrome. Corneal Scratches. That doesn’t scare you? How about conjunctivitis (pink eye), decreased vision, or blindness?

Unlike picking up a pair of nerdy-geek glasses that have clear lenses and don’t affect your vision in any way, contact lenses can and do. They are not a “one-size-fits-all” item — they need to be fitted to your eyes. Otherwise, the lens could be too small and result in Tight Lens Syndrome where the lens acts as a suction cup and sticks to your eye. Ouch! Or, as is the case with the “anime” lenses that make your eyes look like a cartoon character’s, the contact lens is too big, causing oxygen deprivation and may lead to infection. And of course, for people who don’t wear contact lenses normally, putting them in and taking them out wrong could cause scratches on the cornea. Those freaky-looking designs may also cause allergic reactions. All pretty scary stuff.

How to Safely Get Spooky Eyes

You can still have fun! You can still buy decorative lenses from FDA-approved distributors!

But first, you need to get examined by your eye doctor. Get a prescription for properly fitting contact lenses. And learn from your eye-care professional how to put lenses in, take them out, and clean them – just as you would if you were being fitted for vision-correcting lenses.

Be scary safely.