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Old 08-04-2019, 00:29   #1
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Contact lenses on a sailboat

Hi we are starting our 9 month sail trip soon from Tahiti and my eye doctor told me today that it is Irresponsible taking monthly lenses as they have a much higher likelihood to catch bacteria due to local water.
She was a sailer herself and told me only daily lenses are possible.
How is your experience.

Thanks
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Old 08-04-2019, 04:25   #2
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

I'm not a doctor. My personal experience with monthly lenses is good. I do take them out daily, but otherwise, no issues. Have been doing this for 8 years of cruising, mostly in the Bahamas. Other areas may be different.
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Old 08-04-2019, 04:58   #3
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

Im no Doc either, but Ive been wearing contacts for decades and have always lived an active lifestyle: hiking, camping, SCUBA, snorkelling, kayaking, and of course sailing. Ive never had any eye health issues...except when I wore extended wear lenses.

Extended wear lenses are bad for your eyes, and have higher infection risk, regardless of whether ashore or afloat. Just remove them daily. It becomes a simple routine habit very easily.

Take lots of extra lens solution and lots of extra contacts as you may not be able to acquire either. I stock up the boat before each cruising season.
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Old 08-04-2019, 05:42   #4
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

There's research out there on this issue, which is why the doc is concerned, but monthly lenses are possible. Just be aware of the risks. I swim/dive with monthly wear contacts, but use the hydrogen peroxide cleaner and try not to shower with them on my eyes. Definitely clean them daily as has been said. Don't go too long between changing to new ones. That said, I know someone who doesn't take these precautions even though he's diving in high bacterially-loaded water. He never seems to have problems. I won't do it...
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Old 08-04-2019, 06:23   #5
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

Im not sure of the industry standard terminology, so I should clarify what I meant by extended wear lenses: lenses that you wear without removing for multiple days...bad idea.

I think others may be using this term differently.

In my case I use the same lens for extended time (months sometimes), but remove them daily. When they start to get funky I toss them. No eye health issues ever using this procedure for 20 years sailing/diving/etc in the tropics. Annual eye exams confirm all is OK.
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:00   #6
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

TL;DR - It's not just about bacteria/infection, though it's hard to say what your actual risk is.

All contact lenses are effectively little sponges.
The pores in the lenses invariably start collecting with gunk/bacteria from minute 1 of use.
Different lense types have different ~sponge properties (i.e. some act like a big fat yellow sponge, others like a coffee filter paper).

Some lenses are amenable to cleaning/flushing practices. But just because you kill the bacteria in your sponge doesn't mean that the pores remain open. The pores need to remain open to help oxygen get to the clear part of the eye (the cornea) that the sponge sits on (plus other reasons).

When you use your lenses for longer than you're supposed to there are at least 3 general concerns, bacteria being only one of them. The first is that the lens gets so crapped up that its ability to permit oxygen transfer to the cornea is decreased. The second is that the crapped-up lens effectively is seen as a foreign body, causing inflammatory changes about the eye. The third is that bacteria/fungi can collect in pores...such that IF an infection occurs, it will do so on a part of the body with little protection (i.e. on the cornea), where even minute scaring can be life altering.

So ultimately this is like a "why do you wear a seatbelt" deal. Chance of a bad occurrence is low but the consequence is quite severe. Some people get away with not wearing a seatbelt because they are never in an accident. Your vision, your money, your luck, your choice.
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Old 08-04-2019, 09:04   #7
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

Ok thanks for the explanation!
But my doctor was taking about monthly lenses (incl. cleaning and taking them out over night) by daily lenses which you only use one day and take new ones the day after.
And still she said with cleaning and only wearing them over day it is to dangerous in comparison with lenses you only use once.
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:40   #8
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

GREAT explanation, Singularity.
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:54   #9
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

I'm not a doctor either...I'm a nurse :-) I use daily contact lenses as I can't imagine trying to sanitize lenses while underway. These were also recommended by my eye doctor before I set out on some offshore sailing.



As usual make sure you wash your hands well before inserting and removing them. You might want to carry antibiotic eye drops in your first aid kit case you get an eye infection and you are far away from shore and need medical attention. Alternatively you can always wear glasses but I find them too cumbersome when sailing, especially in rough weather but then it can be hard to get your contacts in too. Some people resort to getting laser eye surgery but that isn't for everyone....Good luck and fair winds.
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Old 08-04-2019, 11:26   #10
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

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Originally Posted by Cpt Balu View Post
Ok thanks for the explanation!
But my doctor was taking about monthly lenses (incl. cleaning and taking them out over night) by daily lenses which you only use one day and take new ones the day after.
And still she said with cleaning and only wearing them over day it is to dangerous in comparison with lenses you only use once.
You must consider that the term "monthly lens" refers to a lens that is good for some average person in an average job in an average life for a period of one month (with nightly cleaning). Office person in suburbia without crazy hobbies.

If your lifestyle routinely includes sweat into your eye, dragging with it an inordinate amount of skin oil, plus xyz lotion, plus xyz microbiofilm from abc, def, ghi bodies of water, all in an environment where you are inodrinately rubbing your eyes, all within a 30 day period....well then this "good for a month" business goes out the window. The lens cleaning process can only do so much.

How long the lenses are good for until they fail to meet their certified properties I have no clue. But it's a safe bet that if you throw the lens out every night, you don't have to worry about the multi-day risks at all.
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Old 08-04-2019, 11:45   #11
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

Been wearing contacts since high School. Sailing for years. Contacts are the soft permeable style. Have not had problems on a boat. Take three/four sets and double the number of bottles of solution you think you need. Wash hands before removing or putting in

Good Luck and have FUN
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Old 08-04-2019, 11:56   #12
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

Actually, on a side note, I lost my glasses overboard once.
I only need them at night, but felt it was bad not to have them.

As we where far from home I could not get a proper replacement quickly. They where not reading glasses so you could not get cheap ready-made ones either.

Lucky us, upon my asking I got two boxes of one way contact lenses as immediate remmidy from optician who happened to be sailing as well.

He clearly understood the predicament.
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Old 08-04-2019, 12:24   #13
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

Wore contacts for years in the Bahamas. A pain bringing all the solutions and contacts needed as well as swimming and snorkeling with them. Also difficult to deal with overnights (leave them in or take them out???) and jumping up in the middle of the night to take a look around (have to locate my glasses). So....... finally had Lasik surgery and it was one of the best decisions I had ever made. So nice to not have to deal with contact lenses. Disclaimer...I do need reading glasses now that I'm getting up in years but man, it's nice to be able to see without contacts. Don't miss them one bit!!

p.s. If you do have Lasik, make sure you use a very reputable opthalmologist.
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Old 08-04-2019, 13:16   #14
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Singularity View Post
TL;DR - It's not just about bacteria/infection, though it's hard to say what your actual risk is.

All contact lenses are effectively little sponges.
The pores in the lenses invariably start collecting with gunk/bacteria from minute 1 of use.
Different lense types have different ~sponge properties (i.e. some act like a big fat yellow sponge, others like a coffee filter paper).

Some lenses are amenable to cleaning/flushing practices. But just because you kill the bacteria in your sponge doesn't mean that the pores remain open. The pores need to remain open to help oxygen get to the clear part of the eye (the cornea) that the sponge sits on (plus other reasons).

When you use your lenses for longer than you're supposed to there are at least 3 general concerns, bacteria being only one of them. The first is that the lens gets so crapped up that its ability to permit oxygen transfer to the cornea is decreased. The second is that the crapped-up lens effectively is seen as a foreign body, causing inflammatory changes about the eye. The third is that bacteria/fungi can collect in pores...such that IF an infection occurs, it will do so on a part of the body with little protection (i.e. on the cornea), where even minute scaring can be life altering.

So ultimately this is like a "why do you wear a seatbelt" deal. Chance of a bad occurrence is low but the consequence is quite severe. Some people get away with not wearing a seatbelt because they are never in an accident. Your vision, your money, your luck, your choice.

Good answer. I wear the "gas permeable" Boston II lenses for nearsightedness. I remove them every night. Not everyone can tolerate them, but they are far more durable than soft lenses. I've worn them at sea and aside from the obvious care needed putting them in and out on a rocking boat, they've given me no problems.

My wife wears multi-day soft lenses. I feel she'll need to take more care than I will...I can rinse in saline, and we have a watermaker planned.



However, glasses are a different story. I've had scratches on lenses due to just a few drops of saltwater and a slight bit of movement...the lenses got a little scratched, so "boat glasses" should have as good coatings as you can afford....and the better sort of lanyard to keep them on your head!
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Old 08-04-2019, 13:38   #15
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Re: Contact lenses on a sailboat

Always pack an extra pair of glasses in your current rx in case you do get grungies in your eyes and have to be out of wearing contacts for several days. Also throw a cheap pair with snuggies band with spare contacts in your ditch bag. Change them out every few years.
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