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Can Fire Melt My Contacts Onto My Eye?

A piece of “common wisdom” that seems to be making the rounds these days is that you shouldn’t wear contact lenses at bonfires, barbecues or similar settings where fire may be present. The claim is that the extreme heat from the fire can cause the contact lenses to melt or fuse onto your eye, causing irreversible, total blindness. Our Oak Brook eye doctors are here to debunk this claim, and show you that you have nothing to fear from wearing contact lenses to your latest barbecue.

Rumors About Contact Lenses and Fire

Where did this piece of “common wisdom” come from, and how do we know it’s a myth?

As far as our eye care team can tell, this rumor was started on social media sometime in 2017, with a story about a young lady who stood close to a lit charcoal grill, looking at the coals for about 2-3 minutes. She then began experiencing pain in her eyes and, upon being taken to the hospital, was told that her contact lenses were melted to her eyes and she would be permanently blind.

Contact lenses are sterilized at temperatures of up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and dirty contact lenses that need to be cleaned or re-sterilized are often placed in boiling water.

Contact lenses can withstand boiling water without being destroyed. This means that the heat from the fire would have to boil away the tears in a person’s eyes before their contact lenses would even begin to sustain damage. For this to happen, you would have to be standing in the fire itself, and by then you would also have severe burns on your skin, and melted contacts may be only part (and perhaps the least part) of your concern.

At least 125 million people wear contact lenses worldwide. If normal grills and barbecues could melt contact lenses, contact lens wearers would be unable to operate or even approach household heaters, stoves, and a variety of other common heat sources without melting their lenses. Millions of cases of melted contact lenses would be reported each year. This is simply not the case.

So, obviously, contact lenses can’t melt to your eyes and cause permanent blindness because fire or other common heating sources simply don’t get hot enough for that. But is there any kernel of truth in this concern?

A Kernel of Truth? When Your Contacts Dry Out

Though it’s impossible for your contact lenses to be melted to your eye from being close to fire or another heating element, there is a very real way that you may feel like your contacts are temporarily stuck to your eye.

Being close to heat can potentially dry your contact lenses out, causing the to feel like they are stuck to your eye when you attempt to take them out. This can also result from air conditioning blowing directly into your eyes, extended time of computers and other digital screens, being outside in overly cold or dry weather, and many more things.

If your contacts feel like this sometimes, don’t worry! A drop or two of contact lens solution will help you safely take out your contact lenses without any ill effect.

Want to learn more about contact lenses and your eye health? Contact our Oak Brook eye doctors at Oakbrook Optical Eyecare today.

5 Important Eye Care Tips For Kids

Your child’s ability to see the world relies on healthy eyes. By teaching them how to care for their eyes, you help protect them from injury and ensure their eyes and vision remain healthy in the long run. Here are our 5 top eye care tips for kids.

Good Eye Care Habits for Children

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet and Drink Plenty of Water

A nutritious diet and healthy eyes go hand in hand. Encourage your child to eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, and prioritize foods rich in vitamin A found in green leafy and yellow vegetables. Eggs are also rich in important nutrients, containing vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc, all vital for eye health.

Another thing to look out for is hydration. Proper hydration plays a key role in maintaining healthy eyes and a healthy body, so make sure your child drinks plenty of water (the appropriate amount will vary according to your child’s age, level of physical activity and weather conditions).

2. Wear Eye Protection

Physical activity is enjoyable and healthy, but make sure your child is wearing the right protective eyewear, like safety goggles, anytime they participate in sports or activities that could cause an eye injury (i.e. playing ball, hockey, carpentry). Wearing a helmet for sports like riding a bicycle protects against concussions, which can result in lingering vision problems, and are usually preventable.

Furthermore, provide your child with good UV-blocking sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s UV radiation. Staring directly at the sun, or the light rays reflecting off water and snow, can potentially cause retinal burns, in addition to long term damage.

3. Give The Eyes a Rest

Staring at the school board and school books all day, followed by playing video games or watching TV in the evening can cause eye strain. Be sure your child gets sufficient sleep to allow their eyes to rest. Replace evening activities with those that don’t require intense eye focusing: going to the park, playing outdoors with friends, or simply lying down with their eyes closed while listening to music or an audiobook.

4. Reduce Time Spent on Digital Devices

Spending time on digital devices and staring at screens is an integral part of our lives. Playing video games, watching videos on their smartphones and playing computer games, all require the eyes to fixate for extended periods of time, which can lead to digital eye strain, headaches and even dry eyes.

Try to reduce the amount of time your child spends on the screen by getting your child to participate in other activities, such as sports. And when using digital devices or screens for long periods of time, get them into the habit of taking frequent breaks and give their eyes a rest by looking into the distance every few minutes.

5. Get Their Eyes Checked Regularly

School-aged children’s vision can change often, and unexpectedly, until the late teenage years. Left uncorrected, poor eyesight can interfere with learning, and cause behavioral and attention issues.

Getting a routine eye exam is important as it can uncover vision problems, detect eye conditions early on, and significantly increase the odds of preserving long-term eye health. For those who wear glasses or contacts, it’s important to check for any changes and update the prescription as needed.

Ensure your child’s eyes are being cared for properly by scheduling an eye exam with Oakbrook Optical Eyecare in Oak Brook today. Your child’s eye doctor can further educate them on eye safety and answer any questions you or your child may have.

Q&A

My kid frequently rubs their eyes. Is that bad?

Kids often rub their eyes, especially if they have allergies, irritated eyes, or they feel like something is stuck in their peepers. Rubbing can scratch the cornea, and transfer bacteria from the child’s hands to their eyes, causing an eye infection.

Instead of rubbing, have them wash their eyes with cool water to flush out any foreign body or irritant, and ease inflammation. If the problem persists, contact your child’s optometrist.

Other than reducing screen time, is there anything else I can do to maintain eye health & safety?

When you’re at home, keep an eye on your children’s playtime and make sure that none of their toys — or the toys at their friends’ homes — are sharp. Sharp plastic swords and toys with jagged edges can cause serious eye injuries.