Contact lens are in the news -- for all the wrong reasons.
A fortnight ago, the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, New York, recorded several cases where contact lens users developed Fusarium Keratitis. This is a fungal infection that, in severe cases, can lead to blindness.
The cause of the infection was suspected to be linked to the use of ReNu with MoistureLoc Multi-Purpose Solution, a contact lens cleaning solution manufactured by Bausch & Lomb.
Bausch & Lomb has now withdrawn the product worldwide and is conducting an internal investigation.
Symptoms include pain, redness, watering, a discharge from the eyes, diminishing vision and development of photophobia (intolerance towards light).
Closer home, Shantanu Rajadhyaksha, 17, a student from Mumbai, says she has had an encounter with Fusarium Keratitis.
"Small swellings started developing on the inner wall of my pupil due to which my lenses kept moving up and down indefinitely. This caused a lot of irritation to my eye. My doctor advised me to stop wearing my lenses as she suspected a problem with them. Later, she diagnosed a problem in the contact lens solution and not the lens," says Shantanu, who now uses a different brand of cleaning solution.
Mumbai-based ophthalmologist Dr Ashok Vachharajani, a practitioner for the past 20 years, shares handy tips for contact lens users:
Do you really need lenses?
Eye power is measured in diopters.
When the difference between the power of the left and right eye is more than four diopters, you may experience 'double imaging' when you use corrective glasses. Contact lenses do away with this problem.
Also, contact lenses are recommended when the eye power is high because the corrective glass used would be very thick. This could take a toll on the quality of vision since the field of vision is reduced as one is unable to view the area on the side.
Contact lenses, on the other hand, help increase the field of vision.
Sometimes, lenses help stabilise the eye power. This means they could help to prevent the power of the eye from increasing.
On the other hand, contact lenses are not necessary when you have a low power (such as 0.25 and 0.5) unless your profession demands it. So, if you are into acting, modelling or are cabin crew member for an airline or are in the hospitality industry or in other such jobs, you could consider it.
Is age a factor?
Very small children are usually not given lenses except in very special cases; when a small child has to use contact lenses, parents are taught how to take care of them.
Children in the age group of 13 to 14 years can wear lenses if they are mature to handle them.
As of now, bi-focal lenses are not available in India; however, they are expected to make an entry soon. Since bi-focal numbers are predominant in an older age group of people (40 years and above), even they will be able to wear lenses.
How to maintain your lenses
What you must not do
Sure, lenses may enhance your physical appearance but do you have the time, patience and inclination to take care of them?