Sunglasses & Contact Lenses Go Together

T.R. is a 44-year-old highway worker who presented to our office complaining of a burning and scratchy feeling in his right eye. He has long noticed a “grayish spot” on the eye but with no discomfort. T.R has a 15 year history of daily wear soft contact lens wear but admits to not being to an eyecare professional for “several years.” He also says he has never worn sunglasses. The examination reveals a pterygium, with inflammation, at the temporal limbus of the right eye with 3 to 4mm of corneal encroachment. Due to the advanced nature of the pterygium, the patient is referred for surgical excision. Though this is an extreme case, it demonstrates the need for eyecare providers to stress the importance of quality sunwear to all our patients who spend time outdoors.

Top to bottom: Dana Buchman Marina sunglasses, Spy Oasis sunglasses, Ed Hardy EHS 011 sunglassesEach year consumers spend millions of dollars on the purchase of products to protect their skin from the harmful effects of the sun. The sunscreen industry, along with the medical community, has done an excellent job of consumer education over the past several years. Much less effective, however, has been the ability to convince consumers of the benefits of quality sunwear in protecting their eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

A tremendous opportunity exists for eyecare professionals among contact lens wearers. There are currently about 35 million Americans who where contact lenses and many do not wear quality sunwear when outdoors. This is often due to a lack of understanding because they have never been properly educated on the importance of protecting their eyes. The initial contact lens fitting is the perfect time to make patients aware of the concerns of ultraviolet light relative to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. Most importantly, the patient should be educated that, even in the case of UV blocking contact lenses, the most common ocular effects of sun exposure persist. These include the development of pingueculae, pterygia and benign and malignant skin cancers of the lids.

Proper patient education can be done in many ways. Of course the most effective is the one-on-one counseling that should occur with every patient. – Carmen F. Castellano, OD, F.A.A.O.

Carmen Castellano is in a private group practice in St. Louis, Mo. specializing in contact lens care. He is a diplomate in the Cornea and Contact Lens Section of the American Academy of Optometry, a past president of the Heart of America Contact Lens Society and immediate past-chair of the American Optometric Association Contact Lens and Cornea Section.

Reprinted Courtesy 20/20 magazine

Related pages & posts: Contact Lenses: Spotlight on Focus Progressives, Wearing Contacts – It’s All About Comfort, Protective Sports Eyewear, All Discount Contact Lens Brands.

Want to get these alerts immediately? Just sign up to follow us on Twitter at

Other Cool Stuff:

Google+ | Try On Glasses | Face Shape Guide

  • Youreyesite
    May 14, 2009

    If you have not been in for a contact lens check-up within the calendar year, we hope to help you understand the importance of regular eye care and risks associated with long term contact lens use.

    The contact lens sits directly on the cornea. If the lenses have become warped, if protein has built up, if you wear lenses longer than you should before properly cleaning them, they may be causing problems that you are not aware of. If you are experiencing blurred vision or any unusual discomfort, you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible. To maintain good vision and healthy eyes it is imperative to have regular check-ups. It is possible that by not following the recommended wearing and cleaning procedure you can cause yourself to be unable to wear lenses in the future and you can damage your eyes.

  • Shady Grove Eye Vision Care
    May 4, 2009

    Lenses should be replaced as discussed with the doctor. Lenses schedules are implemented at the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration, as they have studied the lens and approved a wearing schedule that makes wearing of the contact lens compatible with maintaining good eye health and hygiene. Wear longer than recommended schedule puts you at risk for certain eye infections, inflammations and even corneal blindness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *