Is it safe to share eye makeup?

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Sharing eye makeup is even more dangerous than sharing lipstick and other makeup.  Besides the risk of using the wrong colour (oh no!) you have a huge risk of spreading viruses via your makeup.  The most common viral infection of the eye is conjunctivitis (also known as pinkeye), which is extremely contagious.  Sharing can also lead to increased risk of warts, cold sores, styes, and bacterial infections.
 
Mascara, eyeshadow and eyeliner, eyelash curlers, and even Latisse - used to stimulate eyelash growth -  can lead to a bad eye infection. Makeup cannot be cleaned of bacteria and viruses from previous use and bacteria are carried from applicators back to the product itself, so using a clean applicator does not decrease the risk.  In fact, the items can be contaminated for weeks unless they are cleaned and disinfected. This is why it's a good idea to discard items such as mascara brushes and other eye makeup if you've had infectious conjunctivitis, even if your eyes have cleared up.
 
The bottom line is: be selfish with your eye makeup! 

*Images found here and here

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What exactly is pink eye?

To start, there are a few different types of pink eye:

Pink eye related to bacterial eye infections can cause a lot of swelling and produce sticky green discharge, resulting in eyes that are often ‘glued’ shut in the morning. Bacterial eye infections are more commonly seen in contact lens wearers and can result from our skins own bacteria.

Pink eye related to viral infections is by far the most common cause, and is caused by the same virus that results in the common cold. Viral pink eye will usually result in a watery eye with little to no discharge, but may still be crusted shut in the morning. Viral pink eye is the most contagious of all pink eyes, which is why it hangs out in preschools, daycares and work environments.

Pink eye related to allergies is more common after coming in contact with allergens and is often associated with other physical symptoms like stuffy nose, itchy skin or swollen eyes. People often complain of itching and may want to rub their eyes.

Pink eye can also be related to some more serious eye conditions like scleritis, uveitis, or iritis. These conditions require more urgent care, and will generally not resolve on their own if left untreated.

Regardless of the cause of your pink eye, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis by your optometrist to ensure that the treatment matches the condition. Please don’t touch anyone until you see us, and we’ll let you know if you are contagious.

Please Note: Alberta Health Care now covers the cost of emergency eye care visits to your optometrists office – there is no charge to you as a patient. 

Is it okay to sleep in my contact lenses?

Unless you have specific contact lenses that are approved for overnight wear, it is NOT OKAY to sleep in your contact lenses!  When you sleep in them a few things happen: bacteria adhere to the lens surface and increase your risk of eye infection, your eyes dehydrate and the contact lens can cause small abrasions, and most commonly, your eye doesn't get enough oxygen (your closed eyelids when you are sleeping means that your cornea doesn't get as much oxygen as when your eyes are open).  When this happens, you can develop serious infections that can cause discomfort, light sensitivity, scarring and even blindness.

Related: What is the harm in extending the life of my contact lenses?

What do I do if I get metal in my eye?

If you’ve sustained an eye injury, it is important not to panic but to try and see an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) as soon as possible. If you feel that your eye injury is severe, please have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. If you don’t feel that your injury is severe, please read on.

Most metal foreign body injuries occur accidently with metal fragments falling off an eyebrow or somehow getting around safety wear and landing gently on the surface of the eye. The metal or other foreign object can easily adhere to the wet surface of the eye and result in a scratchy, irritating sensation. As your eye is a moist environment, metal can start to rust and result in further irritation. Left untreated, metal foreign objects can eventually result in a large eye infection and may result in partial or permanent vision loss.

Most metal objects can be safely and quickly removed by your optometrist saving you a trip to the emergency room. Your optometrist will evaluate your eye by instilling numbing eye drops to ease any discomfort. Once located, the metal can often be easily removed with specialized magnetic instruments with little to no discomfort.

If the metal has been left in the eye to long, a small amount of rust may be left over after the removal. This rust can lead to similar eye problems and a continued foreign body like sensation in the eye. Your optometrist will quickly remove this rust with an Algerbrush, a fast moving instrument that gently polishes the surface of the eye.

Your eye doctor will provide you with a prescription for topical antibiotic eye drops or ointments along with lubricating eye drops, which must be used for a few days.

Please Note: Alberta Health Care now covers the cost of emergency eye care visits to your optometrist office – there is no charge to you as a patient. If you should ever experience a serious eye injury after normal eye-bar clinic hours, please proceed to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, where there is an on-call ophthalmology resident on site.

What is the harm in extending the life of my contact lenses?

Extending the life of your contact lenses is kind of like driving a car at 250 km per hour.  For a while, if everything goes smoothly, there is no indication of trouble.  However, if something starts to go wrong, it can go wrong in a major way very quickly. 

Some complications that can occur are:

  • Allergic Reaction – protein build-up on the lens can cause discomfort, itchiness, dry eyes and intolerance to contact lens wear.
  • Conjunctivitis – accumulated protein attracts bacteria which can easily lead to conjunctivitis.  Symptoms include redness, burning, itching, tearing, light sensitivity, blurred vision and mucous discharge.
  • Corneal Edema (swelling) – Extended contact lens wear decreases the oxygen supply to the cornea and can cause increased fluid in the cornea. It can cause blurred vision and halos around lights.
  • Neovascularization – The cornea normally doesn’t have any blood vessels. When it is deprived of oxygen (by over wearing contact lenses), the body responds by growing new blood vessels, hoping to increase oxygen to the cornea. This abnormal blood vessel growth can interfere with vision. The new vessels are also weak and can hemorrhage and cause blindness.
  • Corneal Abrasion/Corneal Ulcer – Again, due to the lack of oxygen, the surface cells on the cornea become weak and easily damaged.  Corneal abrasions or corneal ulcers can form causing very serious infection and complications that can lead to blindness.

These complications can be caused both by wearing a contact lens too long in a day (or overnight) or by not replacing your lenses according to your optometrist's recommendations.  Either way, the eye is subject to less oxygen and more irritation and bacterial growth.  The blurred vision, pain, light sensitivity and potential scarring can be greatly reduced or eliminated by responsible contact lens wear.  If any of these symptoms occur, remove your contact lenses immediately and get checked by your optometrist.

*Image found here