Should you Ditch Your Contacts and Wear Glasses? Here’s What you Need to Know About Your COVID-19 Risk

Are glasses a safer option than contact lenses during the COVID-19 crisis? Here is what contact lens wearers should know about COVID-19 transmission. OptiExpress offers comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

Switching from contact lenses to eyeglasses might help reduce your risk of COVID-19 transmission, according to the Academy of Ophthalmology.

This group of eye doctors has suggested that glasses might provide a layer of protection – albeit minor – from airborne transmission from respiratory droplets, though there are no scientific studies verifying this assertion. Nevertheless, while the suggestion that glasses may act as a virus shield is somewhat controversial, it is true that contact lens wearers do touch their eyes more than non-contact lens wearers, and the virus can be transmitted by touching the eyes. This may make contact lens wearers more at risk for viral infection.

If you experience occasional itchiness or discomfort while wearing contact lenses, consider switching to glasses until the COVID-19 threat passes. Many of us touch our eyes or scratch automatically, and this can be a difficult habit to break, so if you can’t shelter in place and think that you could come in contact with a person infected with COVID-19, wearing glasses might be the safer option.

Wearing glasses instead of contacts is certainly the best option if you are already sick, even if you are not sick with COVID-19.

However, contact lenses are medical devices for vision correction, and they can be worn safely if proper contact lens protocols are rigorously maintained. Moreover, disposable lenses offer the best, most hygienic option, because they do not have to be stored and handled frequently.

If you must wear contact lenses – either due to personal preference or because you cannot wear glasses for work-related reasons – here are a few tips that can lower your risk for COVID-19 transmission.

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly. Proper and frequent handwashing may be the best weapon against COVID-19 transmission. Wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds, and make sure you vigorously wash the palms, backs of the hands, between the fingers, the thumbs, and under the nails.

  • Care for your contacts according to manufacturer guidelines. Do not take shortcuts when caring for your contacts. If you wear daily disposable lenses, do not use them longer than explicitly stated on the package. If you wear two-week or monthly contact lenses, use an approved disinfectant solution every time you store them.

Regardless of whether you wear glasses or contact lenses, make sure you thoroughly disinfect anything that comes in contact with your face.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is proud to be one of Ft. Myers’s leading optometrists, having practiced for more than 20 years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

What Contact Lens Wearers Should Know About Coronavirus

If you currently wear contact lenses, here is what you should know about your risk for coronavirus infection. OptiExpress offers comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

The coronavirus crisis has necessitated numerous lifestyle adjustments from everyone – from social distancing, to working from home, to being vigilant about handwashing and face masks. However, not much is said about contact lenses, and how they may or may not contribute to coronavirus transmission.

It is important to note that contact lenses themselves to not make wearers more vulnerable to coronavirus. However, the fact that, by necessity, wearers touch their eyes far more frequently than non-contact lens wearers might raise the risk of coronavirus transmission. The virus can be transmitted through inhalation of infected respiratory droplets, from infected respiratory droplets getting into the eyes, and from touching an infected surface and then touching the eyes.

In order to minimize risk of coronavirus transmission, it might be a good idea to switch from contact lenses to glasses, particularly if you must go outdoors and are at risk of viral exposure. Wearing glasses while out in the open may also reduce the risk of infected respiratory droplets getting into the eyes, though eyeglasses won’t provide 100 percent protection.

If you decide to continue wearing contact lenses, here are a few things that can reduce your risk of coronavirus transmission.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Because many contact lens wearers inadvertently touch their eyes, it is extremely important to make you’re your hands are scrupulously clean. Always wash your hands carefully for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before touching your face and handing your contacts.
  • Use artificial tears that are approved for contact lens wear. Dry eyes may encourage rubbing. If your eyes feel itchy or dry, add a few drops of artificial tears – don’t rub your eyes.
  • Follow contact lens maintenance best practices. Most contact lens wearers initially practice impeccable maintenance and hygiene, but after a few months or years many people become lax, either not washing hands thoroughly before handling the lenses or reusing solution, or taking other shortcuts. It is extremely important to be meticulous when caring for your lenses. Make sure you engage in proper contact lens maintenance every day. Do not use lenses beyond their manufacturer-suggested expiration date. Make sure to immediately replace lenses that have become cloudy.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is proud to be one of Ft. Myers’s leading optometrists, having practiced for more than 20 years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

Eye Safety During Coronavirus Crisis

Here are a few tips for optimizing your eye health during the COVID-19 crisis. OptiExpress offers comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

Eye protection – along with washing your hands frequently and shielding your mouth and nose – can help you avoid being infected by the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a virus that targets the respiratory system, causing sometimes fatal bouts of respiratory illness. COVID-19 infection symptoms include fever, body aches, cough, shortness of breath, and gastric distress in some patients. Though many patients are symptomless, those who do develop symptoms generally do so anywhere between two days and two weeks after being exposed.

There is still a great deal that isn’t known about the progression of COVID-19; it’s what is known as a novel virus, meaning that no human being has ever been infected with it, and no one was immune when it first spread. It is highly contagious, and can be spread via inhalation or eye contact from respiratory droplets being propelled when a person sneezes or coughs, and when a person touches something with the virus on it and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eyes.

Because the virus can be transmitted through contact with the eyes, many optometrists are not seeing patients for routine eye examinations during the pandemic, though emergency services will still be available. Here are a few tips that will help you your eyes healthy during the COVID-19 crisis, until regular optometry services resume.

  • Try to wear glasses instead of contact lenses. While contact lenses themselves do not increase your risk for COVID-19, it is necessary to touch your eyes periodically – if only to put in, adjust, and remove lenses – which may transmit the virus to your eyes. Switching to glasses, particularly if you have to go out, will significantly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. Additionally, glasses might help block respiratory droplets from your eyes, though they won’t provide 100 percent protection.

  • Try to stock up on eye medications if possible. If your insurance permits it, try to get a month’s worth of eye medications if you have glaucoma or other eye conditions that require treatment. Many insurance policies allow the purchase of up to three months’ worth of medications in the event of a natural disaster.

  • Be vigilant about your hygiene. While most of us believe that we are careful about our personal hygiene, we unthinkingly engage in behaviors that make us vulnerable to infection. Do not touch your mouth, nose, or eyes without first washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. When using hand sanitizer, rub vigorously and make sure it covers the palms, back of the hands, the space between the fingers, and under the nails. Disinfect doorknobs and common surfaces multiple times per day.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is proud to be one of Ft. Myers’s leading optometrists, having practiced for more than 20 years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

What Kind of Lenses Do I Need? Part Two – Progressive, Workspace Progressives, and Transition Lenses

The following article continues the discussion of corrective eyewear types – progressive lenses, workspace progressive lenses, and transition lenses. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

What is the difference between progressive lenses, workspace progressive lenses, and transition lenses? Here is a breakdown of the three eyewear styles.

Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses – also called multi-focal lenses – are similar to bifocals in that they are lenses engineered to correct more than one vision issue. However, they can correct more than two concerns, and there is no harsh line of demarcation that causes “image jump.” Progressive lenses address distance vision, intermediate vision (viewing objects at a distance of approximately an arm’s length), and close vision (reading).

Progressive lenses are designed for visual comfort; the visual field adjusts smoothly when the wearer moves their eyes. The upper-central portion of the lenses is designed for distance viewing; the region right in the middle is a small area for intermediate vision; the very bottom is for close vision, or reading. While most people find progressive lenses more natural than bifocals, there will be a period of adjustment, so it is wise to wear them around the house for the first few days before using them for driving.

Workspace Progressives

Although most wearers will be able to use their normal progressive eyewear for work purposes successfully, workspace progressives are designed to accommodate people who have specific work tasks. For example, close-range progressive lenses are more suited to people who spend a great deal of time performing workspace tasks like detail work (sewing), reading, or working on computers. These lenses have distance viewing and intermediate viewing, but the close-up field is bigger, so wearers can work in greater comfort.

Mid-range progressive lenses are designed for people who work in large spaces and need vision correction at approximately 14 feet. This range is good for teachers or people who frequently need to address a room full of people, but it’s also comfortable for computer use.

Transition Lenses

Transition lenses, or photochromic lenses, are any type of corrective lenses that become darker when exposed to sunlight and return to a clear state when indoors. They provide UV protection, and come in a wide variety of colors and frame styles. These are highly convenient and economical, since wearers won’t have to pay for prescription sunglasses and prescription standard glasses.

Whether you need progressive lenses, workplace progressive lenses, or transition lenses, OptiExpress in Cape Coral and Ft. Myers offers a huge selection of designer styles, as well as a convenient onsite one-hour lab. If you live in the South Florida region and think progressive lenses could be right for you, please visit our family-friendly eye care centers today!

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has been one of Ft. Myers’s most respected optometrists for more than twenty years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

What Kind of Lenses Do I need? Part One – Single Vision or Bifocals

There are several types of eyeglasses designed to accommodate different vision challenges. The following article discusses single vision and bifocal glasses. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

What is the difference between common types of lenses? Here is an explanation of single vision and bifocal lenses.

Single Vision Lenses

By far the most common type of corrective eyeglasses, this category offers correction for a single prescription throughout the whole lens. The correction may be either for myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). Reading glasses – prescription or over-the-counter – are also single vision.

While many people wear more than one pair of single vision glasses – one for driving and another for reading, for example – it may be more efficient and convenient to wear bifocal lenses, which address more than one vision issue.

Bifocal Lenses

Bifocal lenses are lenses with two visual fields: one for distance viewing and another for close-viewing. It can be a challenge to adjust to bifocals, because there is a clear line of demarcation across the two lenses, which causes what’s known as an “image jump,” where objects suddenly appear dramatically closer when the eye travels slightly downwards. It is recommended that bifocal wearers wear their lenses as much as possible to get used to the visual field.

Bifocal lenses have the reputation for being the standard corrective eyewear for older adults, because they generally address presbyopia in addition to other vision issues. Presbyopia is the term that describes adult-onset farsightedness that makes reading difficult. Bifocals often have a viewing area specifically for reading.

In addition to single vision and bifocal lenses, there are other corrective lens options that address particular vision issues, which we’ll discuss in part two. If you need corrective lenses and live in the South Florida region, OptiExpress offers full eye exams, a gallery of designer eyewear, and a one-hour onsite lab. Please don’t hesitate to visit our Cape Coral or Ft. Myers eye care center for a comprehensive eye test.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has been one of Ft. Myers’s most respected optometrists for more than twenty years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

Don’t Think You Need an Eye Test? Why Eye Exams Matter

Many of us who don’t wear corrective lenses aren’t vigilant about getting regular eye exams, yet eye exams can detect numerous health concerns that may have gone unnoticed. The following article discusses the different reasons eye exams are as important as routine dental visits and physicals. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

You might not realize it, but your vision may not be as excellent as it used to be. A significant portion of the population – roughly 11 million U.S. residents – require some form of corrective eyewear. Even if you don’t think you need corrective lenses, you may be surprised by how imperfect your vision is once you have a test. If you strain to see small print or read street signs at a distance, corrective lenses may increase your comfort, reduce eye strain, and make you a safer driver.

Additionally, eye exams detect abnormalities that indicate potentially serious diseases of the eyes. Many eye diseases are symptomless at first, though catching them early and treating them quickly can be highly effective.

However, regular eye exams not only keep your vision and ocular health in check, they also provide early detection of potentially serious health issues. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, make an appointment to see an optometrist as soon as possible.

  • Compromised vision or vision loss
  • Persistent eye redness
  • Eye pain
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Light flashes
  • Floaters (the appearance of floating objects)

Discovering and treating eye concerns early is critical to achieving positive outcomes. A few highly treatable issues (when caught early) include:

  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration

There are an estimated 61 million adults in the U.S. who are currently at significant risk for vision loss, yet fewer than half have seen an optometrist or other eye care specialist within the previous year.

If you haven’t visited an optometrist or had your eyes tested within the past few years and you live in the South Florida area, please don’t hesitate to visit OptiExpress in either Ft. Myers or Cape Coral.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has been one of Ft. Myers’s most respected optometrists for more than twenty years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

Fungal Growth and Contact Lenses: How to Keep Your Lenses Sterile

Maintaining your contact lenses properly is critical to keeping your eyes healthy and your contacts in good condition. Here are a few strategies for avoiding the dangers of contaminated contact lenses. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

First-time contact lens wearers are typically fastidious with their contact lens care, but as they grow used to wearing lenses without any discomfort or other problems, they may get slightly more lax about their sterilization routines. This failure to adhere to proper maintenance guidelines can put your vision at significant risk.

Proper contact lens care includes:

  • Washing hands thoroughly – at least 20 seconds – with antibacterial soap before handling contacts.
  • Cleaning one lens at a time with the clinician-recommended solution by gently rubbing the lens with the solution in the palm of your hand.
  • Rinsing the lenses thoroughly for the recommended length of time.
  • Always using fresh solution when storing your lenses; do not “top off” solution.
  • Using a protein remover if your optometrist recommends it.

Fungus is a particularly insidious problem for contact lens wearers. Fungal growth can easily occur in moist and warm environments, which is why many home bathrooms are particularly susceptible to fungus. Moreover, fungus feeds on plastics – the material used in contact lens cases. Proper disinfecting and maintenance dramatically reduces the likelihood that you’ll experience fungal contamination in your contact lenses, but even proper maintenance still isn’t enough in certain rare conditions.

According to a study published in 2015 by researchers for the Eye & Contact Lens Association, there had been incidences of contact lenses – even those that had been properly maintained – being contaminated by fungus at a far higher rate than researchers anticipated. Approximately 7 percent of the samples collected had evidence of fungal growth that could have potentially caused eye infections. This may have been due to several factors, including:

  • Ineffective disinfection solution (hydrogen peroxide-based solutions were determined to be less effective against fungal contamination than multipurpose solutions).
  • Living in a warm and moist climate where fungus flourishes easily.
  • Failing to replace the contact lens case, although the lenses themselves were replaced.

If you wear contact lenses, make sure you use optometrist-recommended cleaning solutions, replace your contact lens case every few months, and if you live in a warm and moist environment, consider investing in a home dehumidifier to keep fungus and other potentially hazardous microbes at bay.

If you are considering switching to contact lenses and live in the South Florida area, please visit the OptiExpress eye care center in Cape Coral or Ft. Myers for a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has been one of Ft. Myers’s most respected optometrists for more than twenty years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

How to Apply and Remove Your Contact Lenses

Knowing the right way to apply and remove your contact lenses is incredibly important for maintaining your eye health. Here are a few guidelines for putting in contact lenses in order to preserve your lenses and keep your eyes healthy. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

If you are new to contact lenses, here are a few basic guidelines for contact lens wear that will help protect your eyes and your lenses.

To apply your contact lenses:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses. Do not use moisturizing soaps that leave an oily residue on your skin after rinsing, since this residue can stick to your lenses and degrade them over time, and may also irritate your eyes. Moisturize your hands after installing your lenses.

  • Shake your lens case before opening it to make sure your lenses aren’t stuck. Pulling a stuck lens from the case may tear it. If you discover that your lenses are slightly stuck, just close the case and shake it gently again to dislodge them.

  • Gently put the lens into the palm of your hand. Don’t put your contact lens into your eye immediately after retrieving it from the case. Make sure you rinse your lenses in the palm of your hand with fresh solution before applying them.

  • Make sure your fingers are dry before installing your lenses. Put you contact lenses on the tip of a dry index or middle finger, because this will help prevent the lens from slipping.

  • Hold your eyelids open with your opposite hand. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently hold your upper and lower lids while installing your lenses.

  • Place your lenses on the whites of your eyes. While staring either upwards or forwards, place the lens on the white of your eye closest to the outer rim nearest your ear. You then close your eye and roll your eyes in a circular fashion to position the lens properly. If it is properly positioned, your eyes should be comfortable and you will be able to see clearly.

To remove your contact lenses:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly. Even though you may be tired and just want to go to bed, it’s still important to make sure your hands are thoroughly clean before taking out your lenses. Bacteria and other particles on your hands can stick to your lenses and flourish in the case, making your eyes vulnerable to infection.

  • Place a clean microfiber towel in and around the sink before removal. This will protect your lens if you drop it accidentally during removal.

To remove soft contacts:

  • Gently hold your eyelids open. Use the index or middle finger of your opposite hand to move the lens towards the white of your eye closest to the outer edge. Then use your index finger and thumb to pinch the lens away from your eye.

To remove gas permeable/hard contact lenses:

  • Stare-Pull-Blink. Hold out your hand underneath your eye. Lean forward, open your eye as wide as you are able, stretch your eyelids open and outward using your opposite hand, and then blink, which will cause the lens to pop out into your extended hand.

If you are in the South Florida area, wear corrective glasses and want to switch to contact lenses, please visit the Cape Coral or Ft. Myers OptiExpress eye care center for a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has been one of Ft. Myers’s most respected optometrists for more than twenty years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

5 Signs You Should Schedule an Eye Exam

While everyone should have periodic eye exams, there are certain circumstances that demand more urgent attention. Here are a few conditions that should be examined by an eye care professional sooner rather than later. OptiExpress offers comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

Although an eye exam every year or every other year is typically adequate for most people, there are some situations that require immediate attention from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Optical health can change significantly in one year, and this is particularly true for people aged 50 and older, so recognizing issues with eye health is critical in order to preserve long-term vision and overall health. Here are a few signs that you should visit an eye care professional soon.

  1. You have persistently dry eyes. Dry eyes have numerous causes – essentially your eyes aren’t producing sufficient tears to keep your eyes moistened and comfortable. While it might not be an indicator of a serious medical issue, dry eyes can leave your eyes vulnerable to infection, which may compromise your vision.

  2. You have a family history of, or risk for, diabetes. If you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, you should have regular eye exams. Diabetes can put you at significant risk for retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts, among other conditions. Diabetes is a leading cause of total vision loss in adults between the ages of 20 and 75.

  3. Your night vision is reduced. If you noticed that your night vision is compromised and have trouble driving at night, you should schedule an eye appointment immediately. The condition could be caused by cataracts, or might be an indication of a significant health concern.

  4. Your vision is changing. Any changes in vision should be addressed quickly, as they may be a sign of something significant. If you are over the age of 40, you may be experiencing age-related presbyopia, which is the reduced ability to focus on near objects.

  5. You have experienced head trauma. Sometimes minor head trauma, like whiplash, can trigger changes in vision. If you had a head injury and are experiencing any vision issues, like trouble shifting between near and far focus, seek immediate medical attention.

You shouldn’t wait for any of the above events to occur before seeing an eye health professional – if you haven’t had an eye exam in a year or more, schedule an appointment with your local eye care professional today.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has been Ft. Myers’s leading optometrist for more than two decades. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

Makeup and Contact Lenses: Tips for Keeping Your Eyes Healthy

If you wear eye makeup and contact lenses, you might trigger significant contact lens and eye health issues if you don’t follow certain guidelines. The following article discusses how you can be sure you’re taking the proper precautions when wearing eye makeup and contact lenses. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

It can be incredibly irritating to get makeup in your eyes, but getting makeup in your eyes while wearing contact lenses is considerably worse. Makeup particles can become stuck to the contacts rather than being washed out via tear production, which can contaminate lenses in addition to being highly uncomfortable. Here are a few tips that can help you make sure your eyes stay moisturized, healthy, and makeup particle-free.

  • Insert your contacts before putting eye makeup on. This helps ensure eyeshadow and other particles don’t accidentally fall into your eye as you put in your lenses. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before putting in your contacts to make sure you don’t have any residual skin care products on your fingers when you touch your lenses.

  • Make sure your eye makeup is non-allergenic. Non-allergenic makeup is less irritating to the eyes and is less likely to trigger tearing or other reactions.

  • Avoid loose powdered eyeshadow, if possible. Water-based cream eyeshadow is not only less likely to fall into your eyes, it is less irritating than oil-based pigments.

  • Don’t apply eyeshadow powder with eyes open. If you don’t like cream eyeshadows, make sure you apply your powder shadow with your eye closed. This minimizes the risk of powder particles transferring into your eyes. Use a clean brush to brush any excess powder that may have collected in your eyelashes before opening your eye.

  • Only apply eyeliner to the outside of the eyes. Applying eyeliner to the inner rim of your eye puts your lenses at risk of makeup transfer. Always put eyeliner on the outside eyelash line.

  • Use eye makeup remover after removing your lenses. Carefully take out your lenses after thoroughly washing your hands, and then remove your eye makeup in your normal way.

  • Replace all of your eye makeup every few months. Bacteria can grow in eye makeup products over time, which can lead to an infection if it gets into your contacts. This is especially true of mascara, since it’s in a closed container.

If you think contact lenses could be right for your lifestyle and you live in the South Florida area, please don’t hesitate to visit the team at OptiExpress for a contact lens fitting at our Cape Coral or Ft. Myers locations.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has been one of Ft. Myers’s most respected optometrists for more than twenty years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.