STOP LENS SWAPPING
BY DELORES T. BROWNE GIBSON, COA, NCLC, Houston
"Oh, let me see! What color are they?"
"They're amber. Aren't they cool?"
"Yeah, let me try them. Mine are turquoise. Let's switch."
Are these teens trading colorful tee shirts, earrings, hats or sunglasses? Unfortunately, they're sharing their color contact lenses. We know it's not safe, but how can we make sure our teen patients understand why it isn't?
I use whatever it takes to get my teen patients' attention. Comparing contact lenses to other personal hygiene items often gets my message across. For instance, I like to ask my young patients if they'd use someone else's toothbrush or retainer. After the predictable "Eewwwww," I go on to describe the potential complications associated with wearing someone else's lenses. I've even used graphic color photos showing conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers to drive home my point.
If I've done my job well, the next conversation I overhear at the mall about contact lens swapping should go something like:
"What color are your lenses?"
"Hazel, do you like them?"
"Yeah, let me try 'em."
"Oh no, that's not healthy. My doctor told me trading contacts is dangerous. She showed me some really yucky pictures. I never trade my lenses and you shouldn't either."