Article Date: 10/1/2004

street smarts
Busted at Blizzard Beach
Find out what your patients did on their summer vacation.
BY DAN BECK, O.D., Leland, N.C.

This summer, I had the privilege of attending the annual congress of the American Optometric Association in Orlando, Fla. This was my first AOA convention and I was very excited to be part of such a large and prestigious event.

So, of course, once I was there, I did what any dedicated, hard-working O.D. would do: I crammed all my CE hours into the first day and a half, so I could spend the next 4 days at all the Disney attractions with my wife and two young sons.

I felt a little guilty at first. However, after spending hours in lines pressed up against masses of humanity, I think I may have learned more about eye care than I would have back at the convention halls.


While sweltering on line at the Buzz Lightyear attraction, I watched a woman pluck her contact lens out of her eye and transfer it directly to her mouth. Yes, this was a soft contact lens. When her friend asked her if that was OK to do, she calmly replied, "My doctor said my contacts will stay comfortable as long as they stay wet. They're starting to dry out."

She removed the lens, saliva dripping off the end, and rapidly shoved it back onto her eye with enough force to perforate the globe. After blinking a few times, she smiled at her friend and shoved a half-eaten chili dog into her mouth. (Half-eaten: Think about that for a minute).


Two days later, I was waiting to drop myself down a 60 m.p.h. water slide at Blizzard Beach when I overheard two teenage boys talking.

"Dude, your eyes are really, really red, man," said one. "It's cool. I'm wearing those new contacts you can leave in for a month, and I've only had these in for 3 weeks." replied the other.

The guy was obviously very photophobic. He could barely keep his eyes open, but I guess "it's cool" 'cause it hasn't been a month yet.


Later, while splashing around in the kiddy area with my 3-year-old, I witnessed the mother of all contact lens abuses.

Two girls of about 15 were seated a few feet away from us. One removed her contact lens, held her friend's head back and placed the lens directly onto her eye. Then she did it again. Neither lens ever saw so much as a drop of saline, let alone a disinfectant. "Those look nicer on you than me," the first girl squealed.

I stood there in awe. I was about to go over to educate them, but my son's urgent potty request had to take precedence.


Back home, I realized that as primary eyecare providers, we aren't educating our contact lens patients often enough or thoroughly enough. Simply asking patients what steps they take to clean and disinfect their lenses is a good start. We need to promote respect for contact lenses for what they are: Prescription medical devices.

A '93 graduate of PCO, Dr. Beck is recovering from his vacation at his practice in Leland, N.C.



Optometric Management, Issue: October 2004