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When soft contact lenses first came on the scene, the ocular community went wild.

People no longer had to put up with the initial discomfort of hard lenses, and a more frequent replacement schedule surely meant better overall health for the eye, right?

In many cases this was so. The first soft lenses were made of a material called HEMA, a plastic-like polymer that made the lenses very soft and comfortable. The downside to this material was that it didn’t allow very much oxygen to the cornea (significantly less than the hard lenses), which bred a different line of health risks to the eye.

As contact lens companies tried to deal with these new issues, they started to create frequent-replacement lenses made from SiHy, or silicone hydrogel. The oxygen transmission problem was solved, but an interesting new phenomenon occurred.

Because these were supposed to be the “healthiest” lenses ever created, many people started to overwear their lenses, which led to inflamed, red, itchy eyes; corneal ulcers; and hypoxia (lack of oxygen) from sleeping in lenses at night. A new solution was needed.

Thus was born the daily disposable contact lens, which is now the go-to lens recommendation of most eye care practitioners.

Daily disposables (dailies) are for one-time use, and therefore there is negligible risk of overwearing, lack of oxygen, or any other negative effect that extended wear (2-week or monthly) contacts can potentially have. While up-front costs of dailies are higher than their counterparts, there are significant savings in terms of manufacturer rebates. In addition, buying contact lens solution is no longer necessary!

While a small minority of patient prescriptions are not yet available in dailies, the majority are--and these contacts have worked wonders for patients who have failed in other contacts, especially those who have dry eyes.

Ask your eye care professional if dailies might be the right fit for you.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Jonathan Gerard

What’s up with people wearing those big sunglasses after cataract surgery?

The main reason is for protection - physical protection to assure nothing hits the eye immediately after surgery, and protection from sunlight and other bright lights.

We want to protect the eye from getting hit physically because there is a small incision in the eyeball through which the surgeon has removed the cataract and inserted a new clear lens. In most modern cataract surgeries that incision is very small - about one-tenth of an inch in most cases. The vast majority of surgeons do not stitch the incision closed at the end of surgery. The incision is made with a bevel or flap so that the internal eye pressure pushes the incision closed.

The incision does have some risk of opening, especially if you were to provide direct pressure on the eyeball. Therefore, immediately after surgery we want you to be careful and make sure that you or any outside force doesn’t put direct pressure on the eye. The sunglasses help make sure that doesn’t happen while you are outside immediately after surgery. It’s the same reason that most surgeons ask you to wear a protective plastic shield over the eye at night while you are sleeping for the first week so that you don’t inadvertently rub the eye or smash it into your pillow.

The other advantage of wearing the sunglasses is to protect your eye from bright light, especially in the first day or two when your pupil may still be fairly dilated from all the dilating drops we used prior to surgery. Even after the dilation wears off, the light still seems much brighter than before your surgery. The cataracts act like internal sunglasses. The lens gets more and more opaque as the cataract worsens and so it lets less and less light into the eye. Your eye gets used to those decreased light levels and when you have cataract surgery the eye instantly goes from having all the lights dimmed by the cataract to 100% of the light getting through the new clear lens implant. That takes some getting used to and the sunglasses help you adapt early on. Think of this as if you were in a dark cave for a long period of time and then were thrust out into the bright sunlight. It would be pretty uncomfortable. The sunglasses help with that adjustment.

So why do people keep wearing those sunglasses long after their surgery? Mostly because some people really like them. They not only provide sun protection straight on, they also give you protection along the top and sides of the frame, reducing the light that can enter around the frame

If you have a spouse who wants to keep wearing those...let’s call them “inexpensive” and “less than fashionable”...sunglasses, but you’d like them to look better, there is a solution. There are sunglasses called Fitovers that go over top of your regular glasses and still provide top and side protection from the sun but look much better than the “free” ones you got for cataract surgery.

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

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