I was trying to think of a good title for this blog post and I was reminded of FB posts I see and thought of : “This boy bought his Halloween contact lenses online and you wouldn’t believe what it did to his eyes!”  (He didn’t really, this is our Optician who purchased the lenses through our clinic).  But, that title was a bit too sensational for me, so I just thought a nice, simple title would suffice, though the dangers are very real.  I lived in Manhattan for 8 years and the Halloween parade down in the Village is legendary.  You see the best costumes and everyone gets dressed up.  That was the first time I saw someone in a costume contact lens – it was a cat eye and I thought it was cool.  I was an ophthalmology resident at the time, and I asked the girl where she got them “Oh, from the costume shop down on 14th Street”, she answered.  Yowser!  I couldn’t believe someone would put something in their eye that they bought at a pop up Halloween store!  That was about 8 years ago and now people can buy contact lenses online, which makes the dangers even more widespread.

Of course, we all want to have the best costumes for Halloween.  And, the cosmetic contacts add a little something extra – Walking Dead zombie with the crazy eyes; vampire with red rimmed iris, or cat eyes – all make for an exceptional outfit.

Our technician, Brandi, modeling our Halloween contacts

 The problem is that people do not realize that these kind of lenses require the same fitting and care as a regular contact lens.  People mistakenly believe that because it’s just for one night, that somehow these contacts do not need to be as safe, or fit as well, which is far from the truth.  Ten hours is more than enough time for bacteria to grow and for a serious, vision threatening infection to occur.  And, just because you can buy them online or in a novelty shop does not mean that they are.  Remember, all contact lenses are medical devices and should be approved by the FDA.  In fact, shops which sell non-FDA approved lenses or do so without requiring a prescription from your eye doctor are conducting business illegally can receive stiff fines, of up to $11,000.  Any place that sells contact lenses should ask you for a prescription.   The lenses pictured above are sold in our clinic and are FDA approved material.    The FDA has issued warnings in the past about the dangers of wearing Halloween contacts.

Dr. Jenifer Bossert, Director of Contact Lens Services at Honolulu Eye Clinic, offers this advice: “In our practice, I tell patients daily that contact lenses aren’t a “one size fits all”.  Just like everyone has a different size foot, everyone has a different size eye…and if your contact lenses aren’t fit to your eye, you run the risk of corneal ulcers, distortions, discomfort, and yes, even the potential for blindness as a result from a significant bacterial infection.  Halloween is such a fun time…and we want our costumes to be awesome…so think ahead, call your eye doctor early, and “treat” your eyes well!

 

Tips for a Safe Halloween with your costume lenses:

1.  Have your eyes examined by  a licensed eye care professional.  They can measure your eyes appropriately and discuss proper care of contacts.  This is especially important  for those of us (like me) who don’t wear glasses or contacts regularly.  We are just not as skilled at inserting or removing contact lenses and that is important at preventing scratches on the cornea.

2. Get a valid contact lens prescription which includes power, brand type, base curve measurements and expiration date

3.  Buy lenses from an eye care professional or vendor who requires a prescription.  We do offer the following contact lenses for sale.  The bottom ones are also available with prescription.  Today is the last day to order in time for Halloween.  Though, based upon their availability, there is a small chance that the lenses might not arrive in time since we live out in the middle of the ocean.  However, these lenses are available year round if you want to buy them early for next year for any upcoming  costume parties!

4.  Follow directions for proper cleaning and care of contact lenses.

5.  Never share your contact lenses.  This was the worst case I saw in NYC.  A 14 year old girl shared contacts with her friend and developed a terrible corneal ulcer and became blind in one eye from it.  It seems innocouus, but it is not just another part of your costume!

6.  Maintain proper follow-up appointments with your eye doctor.

Following these simple guidelines, should allow you to have a safe and fun Halloween!

 

 

 

This is probably one of the most common questions I get.  Even though my husband and I are ophthalmologists (eye surgeons), we still do a large number of glasses and contact lens prescriptions.

Here’s my son, Taj performing his first refraction with the phoropter when he was 1.5 years old. This picture was taken at the Children’s Discovery Center, our equipment in our office is much newer than this!

Taj adjusting the phoropter

Refraction is the term used to describe that process of fine tuning your glasses prescription when you sit behind the phoropter. Everyone gets so nervous when we ask “Better 1 or 2”.  They don’t want to get the answer wrong.  And, the thing is there is no wrong answer.  Your glasses prescription is individualized to suit your needs.  And, most optical shops (like ours) can always redo the lenses for free for three months if you end up getting the glasses and they just don’t seem to work for you, even after giving them a couple weeks.  So, that should take the pressure off.

So, you did it – finished the dreaded “1 or 2” test and your doctor hands you a prescription.  It’s like an ancient language – what does it all mean??? OD, OS, Sphere, Cylinder, Axis, Add??

 

OD and OS

First, OD and OS.  OD stands for oculus dextrous, for those of you who took Latin in high school, which means right eye.  OS stands for oculus sinister, for left eye and OU stands for oculus unitas or both eyes

 

Sphere (Sph)

This refers to the spherical lens necessary to sharpen your vision to 20/20 (if possible for you).  The number is the amount, measured in diopters, needed to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness.  In this example, this patient has a minus in front of the number because he is myopic or nearsighted.  This patient can see near, but not far. Whether the number is plus or minus, the higher the number, the stronger the prescription.

This patient’s eye is a little longer than normal, so the light focuses in front of the retina instead of on it.

Myopic eye diagram

 

A minus spherical lens, or a concave lens, helps focus it onto the retina.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 12.56.21 PM

Here’s another prescription with a plus number in the sphere column, meaning this patient is hyperopic, or farsighted.  That means this person can see far away, but not up close (that’s only for adults).  Though, that’s not entirely accurate – most kids are hyperopic.  As their eyeball elongates, they outgrow this farsightedness – but, their vision is never affected by it because their eye is so flexible it’s able to focus past the farsightedness, giving them 20/20 vision.

This patient is a child and her eye is a little shorter than is normal, so light comes to focus behind the retina.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 12.56.27 PM

A plus spherical lens, or convex lens, helps focus the light onto the retina.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 12.56.44 PM

Cylinder (Cyl)

There are two types of lenses in glasses prescriptions – sphere and cylinder.  Cylindrical lenses are used for correcting astigmatism.  Sometimes new patients come to me and say, “I have…..ASTIGMATISM” (que the scary music).  It’s almost as if it’s a terrible disease (which it’s not).  Astigmatism just means the front of your eye, or the cornea, is shaped more like an egg or football, instead of being perfectly spherical like a ball.

Most people have some astigmatism.  For people with astigmatism, it means that images are slightly stretched horizontally or vertically, like a fun house mirror.  This number can be minus or plus, but practices tend to stick to one sign.  In our office, all our prescriptions are written using minus cylinder.  If you don’t have a number in this column, it means you don’t have any astigmatism.

Axis

Axis refers to the direction or position in which the cylindrical lens is pointed to correct the astigmatism.  It’s measured in degrees.  If your prescription doesn’t have a cylinder number, then it won’t have an axis number either.  Remember high school geometry?  That’s what the axis refers to, just like your old protractor.  Do they still use protractors in high school?  Probably not, I bet there’s some app for that now.

cyl axis

Add

This number is also measured in Diopters and refers to the extra magnifying power needed to help you see up close if you are presbyopic.  Presbyopia is the condition which affects most individuals over the age of 40.  You probably know the signs if you fall into this age group – reading, using your phone, all starts to get a little harder and you have to hold things far away for them to be clear.  That’ presbyopia. If you wear bifocals or progressive glasses, then there will be a number in this column.  Add power is always a plus number and it can range from as low as +0.75 to +4.00 (in rare cases), though the normal add powers are between +1.25-+3.00.

Prism

My patients will have a number in this column.  This is for correcting eye misalignments (strabismus) and reducing double vision.  Depending upon the type of strabismus (eye drift up, out, in or down), the prism will be oriented in different directions to counter the eye misalignment.  Most people do not need prism in their glasses.

And, we’ll close with my favorite pic from the Cat in the Hat – it’s actually very accurate!

© 2011 Honolulu Eye Doctor & Mom Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha