A Guide to Healthy Vision for Professionals
Whether you’re graduating and beginning your new career, working your dream job, or running your own business from home, growing in your professional career is an exciting stage of life. Unfortunately, busy schedules can also result in neglecting self-care, whether it’s going to the doctor for your annual physical exam or making an eye appointment with your optometrist. Fortunately, taking practical steps to protect your vision is easier than you may think.
Start by switching to disposable daily contacts. This will lessen your risk of irritation and infection, as well as being one less thing you have to worry about. You should also schedule an annual eye exam. Make sure to practice workplace eye safety, whether you work in an office, work from home, or work on a job site.
To help you be prepared for whatever life throws at you, we’ll look at:
- Disposable vs. reusable contacts
- Are daily contacts better?
- Daily contacts cost
- Vision care for the busy adult in Knoxville, TN
- Eye safety in the workplace
- Offices and eye safety
- Eye safety and skilled trades
Disposable vs. Reusable Contacts
Soft contact lenses come in two main types: extended wear contacts and disposable contact lenses, also known as dailies. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to know their benefits and drawbacks before settling on one. At Hardin Valley Eyecare and Optical, we can help you find the right style for you and everyone in your home.
Extended wear contacts exist on a spectrum. On the lower end in price, these contacts can be used anywhere from one day to almost a week. On the higher end, they can be used for up to 30 days. The longevity of your lenses will depend on the type of lens you choose.
Your eyes weren’t designed to wear contacts 24/7. While certain kinds of extended wear lenses claim they can be worn overnight, you’ll still need to remove them overnight regardless. This is true even if you have a high tolerance for overnight wear since doing so will protect the overall health of your eyes.
Disposable contact lenses make up the majority of prescription contacts. Daily lenses are considered disposable by the FDA since they should be thrown away after daily use. This means that they should be thrown away every night and replaced in the morning. Doing so helps ensure that they always feel comfortable when you’re wearing them, and cut down on the risk of infection or complications from bacteria that can grow on contact lenses.
There are rigid gas permeable (RGP) extended wear contacts available, but the majority are soft. The benefit of soft contact lenses, regardless of their longevity, is that they’re more flexible and allow oxygen to reach the cornea more easily. This tends to make them more comfortable and easier to adjust than rigid varieties.
Are daily contacts better?
The question of whether to choose daily-use or extended wear contacts is best left up to you and your eye doctor. However, daily contacts do have some definite advantages over extended wear varieties.
They can be broken down into:
- Airborne allergens
- Eye infections
- Chronic irritation
A big advantage of disposable contacts is comfort. Extended wear contacts may last longer, but this can lead to discomfort near the end of their scheduled use. According to Dr. Stephen Anesi of the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institute, “As you wear them, there’s a gradual build-up of lipids and proteins and other things that come from your eyes and tears.”
It’s also possible for airborne allergens to get stuck to your lenses. Dr. Anessi goes on to explain that, “There’s always some residual stuff there, and that can cause irritation, especially for people with allergies.” So your reusable contacts are never 100% clean after their first wear, no matter how well you clean them. This could be a double-whammy for people with allergies.
You may also run the risk of eye infection if you’re forgetting or neglecting to clean your reusable contacts. Bacteria can grow quickly on your lenses if they’re not cared for or handled properly. You could be running the risk of getting an infection every time you put your lenses in. This can be a big challenge for working adults with busy lives or who might lack discipline.
One study found that bacteria can cause ulcerative keratitis and other conditions which can lead to:
- Permanent vision changes
It’s important to take your contacts out at night, no matter how tired you might be. This can significantly reduce irritation and other complications in the future.
Some people can actually develop chronic irritation from contact lenses similar to an allergic reaction. For these people, disposable contact lenses may be the solution. Disposable lenses ensure that you’re not wearing them overnight, or for just less time in general. This can be especially helpful for adults with hectic schedules.
But if you have developed chronic irritation from contact lenses, it’s important to consult with your eye doctor before continuing to wear contacts. Your doctor may recommend you take a break and wear glasses until your eyes are no longer experiencing irritation.
Daily Contacts Cost
For many, the biggest disadvantage of daily contacts is their price tag. Of course, their final cost depends on multiple factors, such as if you’re buying daily contacts for astigmatism, which are going to cost more. With that said, it’s understandable to choose extended wear contacts to save money.
But this isn’t entirely the case.
As we’ve pointed out, you run a higher risk of problems when you wear reusable lenses. That means treating their complications such as discomfort, airborne allergens, eye infections, and chronic irritation costs more time to treat. Getting the most out of your reusable lenses requires the time, patience, and discipline that some people lack.
This can be especially true for kids, teens, and working professionals. That’s why our own Dr. Thompson always recommends daily contact lenses, especially for these groups. He stresses that, “Daily lenses are disposable — you put them in and take them out in a single day, then toss them. They take a lot of the responsibility out of contact lens wear because you don’t have to clean the lenses or change them at a certain time — and you only touch the lens twice.”
Dr. Thompson believes that disposable contacts are the healthiest choice thanks to their:
- Low rate of eye infections
- Safe ease of use
- Long-lasting comfort
Dr. Thompson understands many patients’ hesitancy to buy daily contacts due to their cost. However, he also adds that “Daily lenses may be more expensive up-front, but when you factor in how much you are paying for contact lens solution and office visits due to infections, it evens the price out.”
Can you wear daily contacts more than once?
In short, no. You should only wear daily disposable contact lenses once in order to reap their full benefits. These types of contact lenses are designed for one wear and they lose their efficacy if you wear them more than once. Their time frame of use is usually between eight and 16 hours per day. This is usually determined by your:
- Eye health
- Eyes’ tolerance for contacts
- Level of dry eye
- Eye sensitivity
Your doctor will help determine how long you should keep yours in. You’ll still need to replace them every night based on your eye doctor’s recommendations. You should also replace your daily contacts after every use — no exceptions. This means that you should replace them even if you took them out and left them in solution for a couple of hours.
Daily disposable contacts can’t be cleaned like other types of lenses. They’re much thinner than other varieties and aren’t designed to block bacteria and other types of buildup. Wearing them for multiple days or even longer than recommended can greatly increase your chances of discomfort or even infection.
According to one study, 95% of lenses stored in a saline solution overnight were contaminated with staph bacteria. This kind of bacteria can easily cause infections such as pink eye. Your regular contact cleaning solution can also break down the lenses themselves. This actually breaks the lenses down and makes them more likely to become torn while on your eye.
In the end, make sure that you’re only wearing your daily contacts once per day. You also need to keep an eye on their expiration date. All contact lenses expire, so this isn’t anything special for dailies. You’ll find the expiration date stamped on the lens packaging in the YYYY/MM format.
Vision Care for the Busy Adult in Knoxville, TN
At Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical, we know how busy life can get. That’s why we make finding a time to visit as easy as possible. We’re open Monday through Saturday, so you’re sure to find a time that works for you.
Our hours are:
- Monday: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Tuesday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Wednesday: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Thursday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Friday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
- Saturday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
We can provide vision screening recommendations for adults as well as keep track of your vision changes sometimes caused by working at a computer all day. Scheduling an appointment is easy. You can give us a call at (865) 246 – 1500 or contact us online. You can even schedule your own new patient contact lens exam right from your phone.
Eye Safety in the Workplace
Eye safety in the workplace will look differently depending on the type of job you have. For instance, you’ll have to take different precautions if you work in a trade as opposed to working in an office. On the other hand, there are some steps you can take no matter what your job may be.
It’s good to develop these habits early when you start your career. They will allow you to see more comfortably and help protect your vision for years to come.
Offices and Eye Safety
Your computer screen is the biggest threat to your eye health if you work in an office. This is due to a combination of eye strain and the effects blue light may have on your body. Fortunately, there are some practical and novel steps you can take to ensure your eyes stay comfortable while working on the computer.
These steps include:
- Reducing glare
- The 20-20-20 rule
- Blinking more
- Blue light glasses
One of the most practical ways to protect your vision in the office is by reducing glare from your computer screen. Constant glare from digital screens can cause you to have to constantly refocus your eyes on what you’re looking at. This can result in discomfort and tiredness due to your eyes being more strained or fatigued.
Digital eye strain can help be avoided by using anti-glare screens for your computer or anti-glare coatings for your glasses. If you work from home and are willing to put in the extra elbow grease, consider painting your workspace a darker color with a matte finish to help reduce glare.
The 20-20-20 Rule
Following the 20-20-20 rule is an easy way to prevent eye strain while working. You just need to:
- Look at something 20 feet away
- For 20 seconds
- Every 20 minutes
This ensures that you’re looking away from your screen regularly and avoiding eye fatigue. You may not be exactly sure how far 20 feet is, so just choose something that is as far away as possible. The 20 seconds is important since that’s about the amount of time it takes for your eyes to relax.
Dry eyes can be a big problem in office settings. Looking at digital screens for long periods of time causes you to blink less or stop blinking altogether. This results in eyes that are dry and irritated. Offices also tend to have much drier air compared to homes and being outdoors, causing dry eyes.
If your eyes are constantly dry and irritated then it may be time to consider lubricating eye drops. Over-the-counter drops often only remove the appearance of redness. Lubricating drops act like real tears and give you more protection than OTC varieties. Your eye doctor will be able to recommend what kind of drops would work best for you at your next eye exam.
Blue Light Glasses
Also known as computer glasses, blue light glasses help block the blue light emitted from digital screens. This may help prevent digital eye strain while also improving sleep. There hasn’t been a lot of concrete research yet, but anecdotal evidence from wearers has been positive.
Fans of these futuristic lenses report having fewer:
- Problems falling asleep
- Eye fatigue
Blue light glasses are affordable enough that you can try a pair without breaking the bank. They can go for as low as $50 and can be found online and at most brick-and-mortar stores. If you’re interested in learning more about blue light glasses, talk with Dr. Thompson or Dr. Catherine Abbott at your next appointment.
Eye Safety and Skilled Trades
Not all professionals work in an office. A number of people earn a living with their hands, building and maintaining our homes, offices, and everything else that makes our world easier to live in. If you work these types of jobs then you know they can present various hazards to your health, including your vision.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), around 2,000 American workers experience an eye injury requiring medical treatment every day. A third of these injuries result in a trip to the emergency room, and over 100 patients missed one or more days of work.
What causes eye injuries on the job site?
You face all sorts of dangers on the job site, but most eye injuries are the result of a few types of accidents. They include:
- Striking or scraping
- Chemical and thermal burns
Striking or scraping make up the majority of eye injuries for tradespeople. This involves debris such as dust, cement chips, wood chips, and slivers of metal injuring the eye. Make sure to use caution around machinery that could lead to this type of injury. Larger objects can cause blunt force trauma to your eye or eye socket.
Penetration involves objects such as nails and staples penetrating the eye. Penetrating eye injuries can result in permanent vision loss, so it’s important to stay safe and remain vigilant.
Chemical and thermal burns are usually caused by industrial chemicals and cleaning products. These injuries are very common among welders with injuries like ‘arc eye’ and ‘welder’s flash’ happening fairly often.
Preventing Eye Injuries on the Jobsite
The best thing you can do to prevent eye injuries on the job site is by wearing the appropriate eye protection. This can vary from job to job, so it’s important to understand which kinds of eye protection will work best for you.
They may include:
- Safety glasses
- Face shields
- Full face respirators
Take some time to make sure your eye protection fits before wearing it on the job. Adjust it appropriately for both maximum coverage and protection. Your protective eyewear should fit comfortably and give you plenty of peripheral vision to view your surroundings.
Comprehensive Eye Exams in Knoxville, Tennessee
Regardless of the type of work you do, it’s best to start with a comprehensive eye exam. Unlike the vision screenings you may remember getting in school, comprehensive eye exams allow your eye doctor to get a fuller picture of your vision, eye health, and how it may be impacting other aspects of your overall health.
Along with familiar tests such as reading charts, comprehensive eye exams involve dilating your eyes. This gives your optometrist the ability to see blood vessels in the back of your eyes and help create a treatment plan if there are any issues.
With comprehensive eye exams, your doctor can check for signs of:
- Dry eyes
- Macular degeneration
- Autoimmune disorders
Despite their importance, around half of adults between the ages of 23 and 38 skip comprehensive exams if they already have good vision. Avoid becoming this statistic and schedule your appointment today.
Taking care of your vision now will help ensure healthy vision in the future. Start by switching to daily-use contact lenses to avoid irritation and the risk of infection. You can schedule your eye exam for a time that works best for you. Always practice good vision health in the workplace. You can do this by reducing glare for office work or by wearing the proper eye protection on the job site.
Want to learn more about how you can start caring for your vision now? Contact us today to schedule your appointment!
Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical has been serving professionals in Knoxville since 2009. Dr. Travis Thompson and Dr. Catherine Abbott specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of eye diseases, conditions, and problems and are committed to improving the quality of life in the Knoxville community through enhanced vision. Located at 10904 Spring Bluff Way, you can schedule an appointment online or give us a call at (865) 888-0892.