Water and Contact Lenses Don’t Mix

I wore contact lenses for years and can honestly say I did not know that water and contact lenses were a bad combination. There were definitely times when my contacts were bugging me and I didn’t have any solution and tried rinsing them with water.  This always made my eyes very sore and uncomfortable and I’d always end up just taking them out.  After reading an article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I now know why this was the case.

Apparently water in any form, be it showering, swimming, hot tub, etc. is a bad combination when it comes to contacts.  Water can cause soft contacts to change shape, swell, and/or stick to the eye.  This can be very uncomfortable and can scratch the cornea.  If there’s a scratch in your cornea, then it’s easier for germs to enter the eye and cause infection.

Should water touch your contact lenses, take them out as soon as possible.  Throw them away or disinfect them overnight before wearing again.  Never store your contacts in water, not even tape water.

Mirror Lake Jump Traditions


Beat Michigan Week Mirror Lake Jump

Every year it’s the same.  I ask a friend of mine – “Hey are you going to jump in Mirror Lake?”  And every year he’s says – “You bet!” And then every year I reply with – “I’ll make sure we have an appointment waiting for you at Student Health.”

Hah. Hah – right?  Kind of.  The Mirror Lake Jump is indeed a tradition at Student Life Student Health Services (SLSHS), just not in the way most students like to think.

For us, the tradition consists of making sure that on the morning after:

  • We have plenty of walk-in appointments available.
  • We have plenty of supplies on hand to treat eye infections.
  • We are ready for colds/nausea/diarrhea.
  • We are prepared to handle injuries.

Yes, the day after the Mirror Lake Jump is exciting at SLSHS.  But, it doesn’t have to be. 

Feet: Wear something on your feet! Between glass shards on High Street and sticks in the grass and unknown objects buried in the muck on the bottom of the lake, bare feet are prime targets for cuts and other trauma. At a minimum, consider wearing a cheap pair of flip-flops, strapped on with duct tape so that they don’t fall off in the mud.

Neck: Never, ever dive into Mirror Lake or any other shallow, murky body of water. The risk of disaster, including catastrophic injury to the brain or spine, is ridiculously high.

Skin: When running, jumping, wading, and falling meets rocks, sticks, broken glass, and throngs of partiers, there is great opportunity for bruises, abrasions, and lacerations. Add contamination with skanky lake water, and risk for infection is high. When you get home, take a shower (seems like reasonable advice regardless) and pay special attention to wash any broken skin with soap and water.

Eyes: If you wear contact lenses, consider leaving them at home. At a minimum, take out the contacts as soon as you get home and wash or replace them. Skanky water (a recurring theme) + contact lenses + horseplay + late night = increased risk for funky mirror lake eye infection, especially if the cornea has been abraded by friction from the contact lens.

Hypothermia: Our colleagues in the Emergency Department at the OSU Wexner Medical Center tell us that many of the students who end up in the ER in the hours during and after the Jump suffer from hypothermia. This isn’t surprising given typical midnight temperatures in Columbus in late November coupled with the dubious heat-retaining properties of a wet pair of speedos. The nature of the Jump does not lend itself to staying warm and snuggly, but it also does not require coursework in computational astrophysics to appreciate that intoxication makes hypothermia all the more dangerous.

Soul: Friends don’t let friends do the Mirror Lake Jump alone. Go with a friend. Keep track of your friend. If there’s trouble, ask for help. Call 9-1-1. Do the right thing.

If you Jump, please be safe.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

How long can I leave my contact lenses in?

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Q:  Is it okay if I put my contacts in at 8:45 pm and take them out at 6:00 pm? 

A: The length of time a person can wear their contact lenses safely and comfortably varies with each individual. Each contact lens brand also has its own FDA-approved guidelines for how often you should replace them and how long you can keep them in (i.e. daily wear vs. overnight wear).

Many factors, including certain corneal conditions, tear film instability, dry eye symptoms and eyelid inflammation can lead to a decrease in contact lens wear time for some people. Your eye care professional should be able to tell you the appropriate amount of time you may safely wear your contact lenses based on the type you have.

Because improper use of contact lenses can put you at risk for eye infections and corneal ulcers that have the potential to cause blindness, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued guidelines for their safe use:

  • Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses to reduce the chance of getting an infection.
  • Remove the lenses immediately and consult your eye care professional if your eyes become red, irritated, or your vision changes.
  • Always follow the directions of your eye care professional and all labeling instruction for proper use of contact lenses and lens care products.
  • Use contact lens products and solutions recommended by your eye care professional.
  • Do not use contact lens solutions that have gone beyond the expiration or discard date.
  • Rub and rinse your contact lenses as directed by your eye care professional.
  • Clean and disinfect your lenses properly following all labeling instructions provided with your lens care products.
  • Do not “top-off” the solutions in your case. Always discard all of the left over contact lens solution after each use. Never reuse any lens solution.
  • Never use non-sterile water (distilled water, tap water or any homemade saline solution). Exposure of contact lenses to water has been associated with Acanthamoeba keratitis, a corneal infection that is resistant to treatment and cure.
  • Do not put your lenses in your mouth to wet them. Saliva is not a sterile solution.
  • Clean, rinse and air-dry your lens case each time lenses are removed. You may want to flip over your lens case while air drying so excess solution may drain out of the case. Contact lens cases can be a source of bacterial growth.
  • Replace your contact lens storage case every 3 to 6 months.
  • Do not transfer contact lens solutions into smaller travel size containers. This can affect the sterility of the solution which can lead to an eye infection.

If you are experiencing abnormal eye symptoms or would like to discuss eyeglasses or contact lenses, be sure to contact the Student Health Services Optometry Department – we’re here to help!

Julia Geldis, OD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Flashes and floaters and Eyes, Oh My!


Have you ever seen flashes of light or weird little floaters in your vision? Wonder what causes them, and if they’re something to worry about?  Well wonder no more my friends!

Your eye is composed of a gel-like substance called the vitreous that helps maintain the shape of the eye and acts as a “shock absorber” to protect the fragile retina. As we get older, the vitreous begins to liquefy and deteriorate, and the contents of the vitreous clump together. These clumps of vitreous can appear in your vision as “spots,” “cobwebs,” or “floaters” and may vary in size and location. These floaters tend to appear as moving spots in your vision and can come and go throughout the day.

Floaters are quite common and usually harmless, but they may lead to other more serious conditions, such as retinal tears or detachments. It is important to see an eye care professional immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • sudden onset of floaters
  • loss of vision that accompanies the floaters
  • numerous or large floaters
  • floaters associated with trauma to the eyes or head
  • a sudden increase (or “shower”) of floaters
  • flashes of light

Flash of light are a little more worrisome.  They are caused by stimulation of the retina, which can be due to many things:

  • a retinal tear or detachment
  • a posterior vitreous detachment (common)
  • migraine headaches (common)
  • rapid eye movements (very common)
  • retinal infections or inflammations (rare)
  • central nervous system disorders (rare)

If you see any flashes of light it is very important to see your eye doctor right away to make sure you don’t have a retinal tear or detachment; if left untreated they can result in vision loss. 

If you have any concerns about your vision, you can make an appointment with Student Health Optometry Services – we’re happy to check you out.

Tia Tucker, OD (Ohio State College of Optometry Alum)

Julia Geldis, OD (Staff Optometrist, SHS)


Eyes itchy, red and watery – what to do???

Wilce Student Health Center


Allergic conjunctivitis

My eyes itch terribly; they are red and tearful constantly… Doc, what is going on?

You’re not alone. In 2010, over 40 million bottles of allergy eye drops were purchased over the counter. This year alone, it is estimated that more then 10 million prescriptions for allergic conjunctivitis will be written. With last year’s winter in central Ohio being so mild and followed by a HOT spring and summer, everyone is itching, even those who have never experienced symptoms previously.

What causes allergic conjunctivitis?

Before we answer this; a quick anatomy lesson is in order. The front surface of the eye has multiple layers of tissue, some you can see and some you can’t. When you look into a mirror and see the white of your eye that is called the sclera. Lying directly above this is a clear tissue that is difficult to see without a microscope. It’s called the conjunctiva.  

Okay, so why does my conjunctiva become red and irritated springtime after springtime?

During the spring, plants, trees, and flowering buds release pollen into the air.  These pollens eventually end up in your lungs, nose, and eyes. When the pollen contacts the conjunctiva, it becomes an allergen, initiating an immune system chain reaction called a Type I Hypersensitivity Reaction. It is “hyper”sensitivity because the immune system “over” reacts to the allergen, believing it to be harmful, when, in fact, it is truly just a speck in your eye. When all this occurs, the eyes become red, itchy, and teary.

So what can we do about it?

Luckily, there are many options:

  • Often, the most effective are prescription eye drops recommended by your doctor.
  • There are also over the counter allergy eye drops, these are typically less effective and sometimes not effective at all.
  • If it is a mild case of allergic conjunctivitis a cool compress over the eyes can be effective as well.
  • If you have other allergy symptoms, you may also benefit from allergy pills or nasal sprays from your doctor.

Please remember, if you have a red eye make sure you visit your doctor to rule out other more serious causes like infections.

With the help of your doctor you can manage your allergy symptoms with ease, so if you’re tired of the itchy red eyes, make an appointment at Student Health Services today.  Talk to our appointments staff by calling 292-4321, and you may be booked with our Optometry professionals or with a Primary Care provider.

Good Eye Health!

Adam Fannin (OPTOMETRY IV, OSU College of Optometry Intern)

Julia Geldis, OD (OSU Student Health Services, OSU College of Optometry Faculty)

Is it OK to sleep in my contact lenses? May is Healthy Vision Month!

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The Student Health Center


Q: Is it OK to sleep in my contact lenses? What if they are a “Night & Day” brand?

A: Even though there are particular designs of lenses that are approved for “extended wear” (the industry term for overnight wear), it is very important to have your eyes examined to ensure that they would be safe for wearing lenses overnight.

The cornea (the clear, outermost layer covering the colored part of the eye) has no blood vessels so it gets all of its oxygen from the outside environment. Even though contact lenses let some oxygen pass through to your cornea, they filter out a significant amount so wearing lenses for a long period doesn’t let your cornea “breathe”. This can lead to significant degrees of inflammation, irritation, redness, and discomfort. 

Additionally, nighttime lens removal, cleaning and soaking in a disinfecting solution (NOT JUST SALINE) is an essential step to maintain adequate eye health for contact lens wearers. This overnight soak removes deposits and neutralizes bacteria and viruses that build up on the lens throughout the day. So, when you wear lenses overnight, they are often contaminated with bacteria that increase the risk of infection. This can lead to a potentially serious disorder called a corneal ulcer, which can lead to blindness.

Because of these serious consequences, we recommend that you only wear your lenses overnight under the guidance of an eye doctor. However, we realize that not all overnight wear of contacts is planned. If you think there is a chance that you might be sleeping in your lenses, stick a lens case in your pocket or purse. If you do forget to take out your lenses, be sure to consult your eye doctor if you experience any redness, discharge, pain, light sensitivity, or reduced vision. Even if you don’t have any of these symptoms, it might be a good idea to wear glasses the next day to give your eyes a chance to “breathe.”

The staff of Ohio State Student Health Optometry Services is always happy to see you about your eye safety concerns.  We’re here to protect your sight and keep your eyes healthy!

Adam Brandeberry (OSU College of Medicine and Public Health)

Gregory J. Nixon O.D., F.A.A.O. (Associate Professor of Clinical Optometry, OSU College of Optometry and Student Health Services)

A stigma-WHAT?

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Have you ever been told you have astigmatism at your eye exam? And have you ever wondered what the heck astigmatism actually is? Well, allow me to bring this very common condition into focus for you.

Astigmatism is a condition in which the light rays that enter the eye do not focus at the same point on the retina, or the back surface of the eye. This results in a blurry image, which may cause you headaches and eyestrain. The light rays may scatter due to the curvature of the cornea, which is the clear front surface of the eyeball, or as they pass through the intraocular lens inside the eye. Thankfully, having astigmatism does not mean you have some scary eye disease! It is actually considered to be a part of your refractive error – the prescription you get for glasses or contact lenses.  

A person can have astigmatism while also being near-sighted or far-sighted. It may be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. If you have been experiencing blurry vision, headaches or eyestrain, please feel free to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive vision exam at our Optometry Services at The Wilce Student Health Center. To learn a little more about astigmatism, check out the information and video posted on the American Optometric Association’s website.

Julia Geldis, OD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

How to pick the right pair of sunglasses

OSU Optometry Clinic

There’s a great story in the New York Times about how to pick the best pair of sunglasses.  There’s actually more to consider than just how cool they look.  If you don’t get the right type of sunglasses, you could actually end up putting your eyes at more risk from the harmful effects of the sun.

But looking cool is important too, and luckily you will have a chance right here on campus to check out the latest styles for the spring!

The Optometry Clinic is hosting their semi-annual Spring Fashion Frame Expo from 9-6 next Tuesday, April 12th.   

In addition to their normal selection of 2000 frames, many eyewear manufacturers (including Gucci, Sean John and LaCoste among others) will present their Spring Fashion Collections.

Featured frames will be specially priced, and there will be licensed opticians there to make sure your eyes will feel as good as you look!

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Keep Your Eyes Open at Mirror Lake Tonight!


We know that Mirror Lake Jump-In is a fun and exciting tradition for a lot of students, but it can be a risky proposition.  The combination of cold weather, alcohol, wet clothing and the slippery lake bottom can lead to lots of bad things: hypothermia, frostbite, upper respiratory infections, sprains and broken bones among others.    

And just so we can be a total buzzkill, we thought we’d tell you about another risk of jumping into Mirror Lake that you probably hadn’t thought about – an eye infection known as Acanthamoeba Keratitis.  The bug that causes this disease is commonly found in fresh water sources, such as tap water and our very own Mirror Lake.

This infection can be dangerous because the human immune system is not capable of fighting it off without the aid of specialized and intensive treatment.  The infection isn’t that common but if it goes untreated, it could lead to permanent vision loss.

Signs that you may have the infection include eye pain, blurry vision, light sensitivity or a sensation that something is stuck in your eye.  If you have any of these symptoms – regardless of whether or not you jumped into Mirror Lake – be sure to see your eye doctor or make an appointment with the optometrists at the Student Health Center as soon as possible. 

About 85% of all cases occur in people who wear contact lenses, so the best way to avoid catching this nasty bug is to not wear contacts while swimming or wading in any water source, especially lakes and hot tubs.  And you should never clean or store your contacts in regular tap water.

If we can’t talk you out of jumping into Mirror Lake tonight, at least bring blankets and dry clothes, don’t drink too much, do NOT dive or run when you jump in, and be sure to leave your contact lenses at home before you take the freezing plunge.

For more information on how to stay safe during Mirror Lake Jump-In, check out this great information from our friends at the Student Wellness Center.

Patrick Milleson, Leah Steele
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University

Julia Geldis, OD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Maybe the Eyes really are the Window to the Soul

Jon Radwan 2000

Depression is a common condition – about 10% of adults are diagnosed with a depressive illness at some point in their lives – and a tough one to treat.  The problem is that the symptoms are based on subjective feelings, so a lot of people think that it’s not a “real” medical problem.  I can measure your blood sugar and tell you if you have diabetes; I can measure your cholesterol and tell you if you’re at risk of having a heart attack; but how do I measure any of the following?

  • mood changes
  • withdrawal from friends
  • decreased interest in work, school, or other activities previously enjoyed
  • feeling worthless, irritable, hopeless, or tired
  • loss of concentration, sleep or appetite
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Thoughts about dying or suicide attempts

Who doesn’t feel one or more of those things every now and then?  Is everyone depressed?  Can some people just not handle it?  Besides someone telling you that these feelings are a problem, is there any way to know that how they feel is any different or worse than how you feel?

Well someday it might be as easy as looking them in the eye…

Researchers at the University of Freiburg in Germany found that depressed people weren’t able to see the contrast between black and white as well as non-depressed people by measuring the electrical activity in their retinas.  They used a device called an electroretinogram – basically, they did a tiny little EKG on their eyes. 

Now it’s way too early to tell if this technology will actually provide a meaningful way to diagnose and monitor depression – we’re not going to have any kind of Star Trek retina scanner depress-o-meter at the student health center any time soon.  But if your roommate keeps telling you that “everything just looks blah around here,” it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask how things are going. 

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University