Christopher J. Babin, OD, and Charlene Walton, OD, are members of Optometric Physicians of Washington and two of 18,000 doctors listed on the Think About Your Eyes online locator. Think About Your Eyes is a nationwide public awareness initiative promoting the importance of an annual eye exam and overall vision health. First Vision Media Group (publisher of Optometric Office) supports Think About Your Eyes as a media partner and provides space for this monthly Guest Editorial.

Our patients are no strangers to the appeal of contact lenses as a form of vision correction, even before they themselves might need it. The convenience factor alone is often what persuades patients to choose contact lenses as their main vision correction modality. Whether they find keeping track of glasses a burden, lead an active outdoor lifestyle or prefer not to wear glasses for appearance reasons, contact lenses can be a great vision correction tool for patients.

However, some patients engage in less than safe behavior when it comes to their contacts. With the prevalence of cosmetic contact lenses and online sales, patients can be tempted to use contact lenses in risky ways. Halloween and other costumed events are a time when patients will use generic lenses without considering the potential impact on their eyes. Social pressure can even push kids to trade or share lenses with their friends. When not fitted by an eye doctor, these lenses can cause blurred vision, corneal infections, and in rare cases lead to sight loss.

Even patients who don’t engage in risky behavior need to see their optometrist annually to ensure they are in good corneal health and that their contacts are fitting their cornea correctly. An optometrist can also provide guidance on the care and hygiene of contact lenses to ensure safety.

Contact lens usage goes hand-in-hand with an annual eye exam. Patients are often prescribed a one-year supply of lenses, at which time they and their eye doctor can evaluate their vision, update their prescription, and address any questions the patients have about their lenses.

Unfortunately, not all patients are diligent about their annual exam, and as an optometrist, I appreciate any reminder that brings a patient into my office for an exam. The Think About Your Eyes campaign does just that””it highlights the importance of vision health as a whole, and encourages the public to get an annual eye exam. In my 20-plus years of practice, this is the first time we’ve had a way to educate the public and change their behavior. I’m a proud supporter of this campaign that is not only helping to grow the industry, but is effectively improving the public’s eye health and attention to their vision.


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