Are Eye Whitening Drops Safe?

Judging from a Google search of ‘Visine and other Eye Whiteners’ (yielding 14 pages of hits,) a lot of people have red and inflamed eyes. We Americans spend about $600 million annually on Visine, Clear Eyes and other similar eye whiteners. Are they safe and effective? The answers are complicated.

There is great interest in eye whitening for a variety of cosmetic and social reasons, (e.g., eye redness from allergies, contact lens wear, environmental irritants, excessive alcohol use, etc.) All of these products do provide temporary eye whitening. So why the concern?

Ophthalmologists are concerned about the masking of more serious eye diseases that cause redness. There are many, including infections, contact lens-related problems, inflammatory diseases and glaucoma. As a rule of thumb, any eye redness that causes pain, reduces eyesight or doesn’t resolve promptly needs medical attention and should not be self-medicated with eye whiteners.

‘Rebound’ redness is another major concern of eye whiteners. Prolonged use can cause a form of addiction whereby stopping the drops causes rebound redness worse than when the redness first started.

Lumify is a new player on the market having received FDA approval late last year. Lumify’s appeal is that it does not cause rebound redness. It actually is a spin-off of a popular glaucoma medication, which has eye whitening as a ‘side effect’. Since Lumify is a very low-dose formulation of a drug that’s been around for years, it’s unlikely to have any long-term problems. It does contain a preservative that can cause significant irritation, especially if used frequently.

The concern about masking of more serious eye disease, of course, remains the same. Ads for Lumify state the drops can be used four times a day. “However, anyone who thinks they need drops that often should first have their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist to find out what's causing the redness,” says Laurie Barber, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

November 27, 2018

Keep an Eye On Safety, Not Fashion This Halloween!

One of the hottest accessories for Halloween costumes in recent years are decorative contact lenses. When choosing accessories for your Halloween costume, protect your vision and avoid an unwanted scare by wearing only ophthalmologist-approved contact lenses from trusted manufacturers.

Over-the-counter decorative contact lenses have become popular in novelty shops and are easily purchased online, but consumers have no way of knowing whether the products are safe to wear.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology strongly warns against using any over-the-counter non-prescription contact lenses. These lenses may be made with harmful materials that can cause painful corneal ulcers or keratitis, leading to impaired vision or blindness. In addition, lenses with designs printed on them have rough surfaces which can scratch the eye, allowing bacteria to cause infection and potentially blindness. A recent study tested five varieties of decorative lenses and found three contained chlorine and four types of lenses contained iron.

Consumers can obtain FDA-approved decorative contact lenses from reputable manufacturers with a prescription. Your ophthalmologist can provide a copy of your contact lens prescription, giving you the option of buying lenses from an eye care professional or legitimate online retailer. Always buy your contact lenses from a seller that requires a valid prescription.

Ask your ophthalmologist about the risks before you purchase costume lenses, and have your eyes examined right away if you have used over-the-counter lenses. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

October 1, 2018

Smartphones and Sun Exposure Can Speed Up Macular Degeneration

A new study claims that blue light emitted from digital devices, including smartphones and tablets, may lead to macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease that leads to significant vision loss in people age 50 or older and the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.

While this study makes a connection between blue light and vision loss later in life, more research is needed to determine how much natural and man-made blue light is "too much."

According to the Vision Council, nearly one-third of adults spend more than half their waking hours using a digital device. Even more alarming, nearly 32% of adults do not take any action to reduce digital eye strain.

According to this study, repeated exposure to blue light and the sun can cause retinal molecules to trigger reactions in the eye, which generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells and kills them. These cells do not regenerate.

A condition associated with blue light exposure is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS manifests through fatigue, headaches, blurred vision and other non-specific symptoms. Researchers also found when people use digital devices in the evening, it increases the prevalence of sleep disorders.

Fortunately, sunglasses or other task-specific eyewear that filter UV and blue light can protect the eyes. If selecting blue light-blocking lenses, be aware that most varieties distort color perception.

DuraVision BlueProtect by ZEISS Vision Care offers an exceptional anti-reflective coating with excellent light transmission that deflects the most harmful wavelengths without interfering with the body’s circadian rhythm, your natural sleep/wake cycle.

Visit your ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your symptoms and an optical expert to fill your prescription for the appropriate task specific eyewear.

September 4, 2018