The Truth About Hubble Contact Lenses

While it might seem like you could save money by switching to a new online brand of contact lenses, you might actually be over-paying for a lower quality product. I’ve been reading a lot of misinformation on the web and in reviews of the product, so I’m here to address some of your concerns and help you separate the truth from fiction!

No offense Dr. Lee, but I want to skip the middle man
Contact lenses are MEDICAL DEVICES. They are not one-size-fits-all, and what works best for you might not work for someone else. When choosing a contact lens for you, I have to consider other factors aside from just the prescription, including the conversion from glasses to contacts, the material, the size of the lens, and the curvature.

One very important property of a lens material is oxygen transmissibility (Dk/t). This is a measure of how much oxygen can pass through to reach your cornea, while taking into account the thickness of the lens. Hubble contacts are made with an old material called methafilcon A, which has a Dk/t of 18.8. Research shows that a Dk/t of 24 is necessary to maintain cornea integrity and avoid swelling. This is why, as your Doctor of Optometry, I will choose to not sell certain products which can cause problems for my patients, despite being lower cost.

A quick search will reveal that other contact lens companies have offered this material in the past – It’s nothing new. A well-trained optometrist would not offer this to you now because of all the increased risks of side effects! Sometimes you need an experienced, educated middle (wo)man looking out for you 😉

They’re daily lenses, so they’re automatically healthier.
TRUE, sort of – Yes, daily disposables are more hygienic, but not all daily lenses are the same, which leads me to….

Contact lenses are one of those medical devices that (unfortunately) haven’t changed in eons
FALSE. There’s been a lot of changes in contact lens materials, including a whole new category material (silicon hydrogel), so now we can obtain Dk/t up to 156. More oxygen means much healthier corneas, and we see a lot fewer complications like swelling and neovascularization. There’s also many new lens designs, and more options available for people with high prescriptions or astigmatism. People used to have to stop wearing contacts in their 40s when they started needing reading glasses, but now it’s possible to keep wearing them with new multifocal technology!
If you were told in the past that you couldn’t wear contacts, ask your doctor about your options now, because so much has changed, even in the last 10 years!

Wearing old materials is like buying a computer with Windows 98…. It works alright, I guess… but Windows 10 is so much better!

But these lenses feel so comfortable!
These are high water content lenses, so they do tend to be very comfortable. They feel more flimsy, and they’re so thin when you take them out of the package… and thin means it’s better for your eyes, right? WRONG. Comfort isn’t always a good indicator of good fit, and also high water content doesn’t always mean more oxygen – but that’s a whole other topic (Guys, there are seriously so many better options out there!)
The problem with contact lenses is that you can’t “feel” a good fit. They are not like clothes. If your pants don’t fit, you know right away. However, contact lenses can sometimes FEEL great, but they may be too tight, which hinders circulation to your eyes. Even a lens in a good material can cause problems if it’s too tight.
One of the more serious contact lens-related threats to vision, aside from an infection, is neovascularization. Neovascularization is when blood vessels grow into your cornea (the clear part of your eye, where blood vessels do not belong), due to lack of oxygen.
Here’s a picture of corneal neovascularization, which used to be a really common problem with old contact lens materials.

Picture from Online Journal of Ophthalmology

This isn’t my patient, but I had one that looks just like this. Guess what? He doesn’t feel a thing. Over time, the blood vessels will continue to grow towards the center, which can cause irregularity in your cornea and impair your vision. In severe cases, this might require a corneal transplant.

Look, if you want to deprive your eyes of oxygen…. I have access to these old lens materials. I can order them, if you insist. But as your Doctor of Optometry, I do not offer sub-standard options. My patients deserve nothing but the best! 🙂

But I don’t want to come in every time I need more contacts….
Yes, it’s going to take a little bit more effort if you’re a new patient to the office, but it’s worth it to make sure your eyes are healthy and that you can continue wearing contact lenses long term. Once we have your lens design and fitting information on file, we can deliver your order to your doorstep after your yearly eye health exam. Shipping is free on your 1 year supply!

But these are so cheap!
This company doesn’t ship to Canada, but let’s compare prices. Their monthly subscription is $30 USD, or $264 USD for one year (currently $347 CAD).
If you want dailies, we have options with Dk/t ranging from 26 to 156. You can get a 1 year supply starting as low as $344 CAD, with our office discount and rebate programs (subject to change). There are tons of options though, so call the office to schedule an appointment and I can help you pick what’s right for you.
Furthermore, if you get your year supply from us, you’re covered for visits for any contact-lens related problems throughout the year. It’s like getting membership to our health plan! Also, within a whole year supply of lenses, chances are there might be one or two defective ones that might rip when you take them out of the packaging, so we can replace those for you, no problem (good luck getting replacements from online retailers). If you get your contacts elsewhere, contact lens-related visits are not covered by OHIP, so there is a charge for any problems throughout the year.

So this new brand isn’t really offering you anything new. They’re just trying to trick you into buying a sub-standard lens at inflated prices. If you were offered a first generation iPhone for $250, or the choice to pay an extra $50 for an iPhone 7 …. which one is the better deal?

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Avoid Decorative Lenses This Halloween

The number-one thing to AVOID this year when planning your costume is decorative contact lenses! Those over-the-counter costume lenses are NOT safe and it’s not worth the potential lifelong damage to your eyes. Be safe when using any contact lenses!


Excerpt from What not to wear: 4 costume items to avoid this Halloween (from CTV News, click for full article):

Halloween is a fun and festive time for adults and children alike, but it’s best to get into the spirit safely. Here are four costume accessories to avoid if you don’t want Halloween to come back and haunt you:

Decorative contact lenses

For some Halloween enthusiasts, no demon or alien costume is complete without lenses that change the colour of their eyes.

Despite the popularity of decorative contact lenses, they are considered medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and, as of last July, Health Canada.

The FDA says decorative contact lenses should never be an over-the-counter purchase.

Decorative or not, a poorly fitted contact lens can cause serious eye damage, including scratches on the cornea, corneal infection, pink eye (conjunctivitis) and decreased vision or blindness.

If decorative contact lenses are a must this Halloween, the FDA recommends visiting your eye doctor to obtain a valid prescription that includes a brand name lens with proper measurements and an expiration date. You should also follow all directions for cleaning and disinfecting the lenses before use. Another visit to the eye doctor is even recommended for follow-up eye exams.

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Cosmetic Contacts Can Damage Your Eyes

Happy Halloween!
This year, STAY AWAY from costume contact lenses! Even wearing them for a short period of can cause permanent damage to your eyes. This young girl was only wearing the lenses for 4 hours, but the lenses scratched her cornea and caused vision loss. It only takes one bad episode to cause permanent damage.

The risk is much higher with costume lenses purchased over-the-counter or online, because these manufacturers use unknown materials, and the solution may have contaminants which can damage your eyes. Contact lenses are NOT one-size-fits-all, and must be properly fitted by an optometrist. They are medical devices, which means they are subject to specific safety requirements, which your optometrist follows (and the local dollar store/costume store may not).
If you want to try coloured lenses, talk to Dr. Lee about your options – there are many SAFE coloured lenses out there too!

READ MORE in this post from last year

Read this article about how this girl damaged her eyes by just wearing the lenses for a short time (‘Zombie’ contacts damage teen’s eye )

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Costume Contact Lenses Carry High Risk of Infection

Halloween is just around the corner, and while a crazy pair of contacts might seem like the perfect addition to your costume, DO NOT buy unprescribed lenses from over-the-counter or online sellers. Anyone who is not an optician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist selling contact lenses is doing so illegally. This also applies to circle lenses or any coloured lenses you can buy randomly at non-optical stores at the mall or online. Many websites claim to sell “100% authentic” and “#1 brand” lenses, but this is not safe.

Contact lenses are medical devices, which means they are subject to specific safety requirements. Online and over-the-counter products are produced by unknown manufacturers, who don’t follow the requirements. Contact lenses are NOT one-size-fits-all, and just like wearing the wrong shoe size, ill-fitting contacts can cause major discomfort and damage to your eyes.

The main concern is that these manufacturers may use unknown materials to make the lenses, and the sealed packaging does NOT guarantee that the lenses are sterile. Contaminants may scratch your cornea, cause an allergic reaction, or cause a serious infection which may result in permanent scarring and vision loss.
The risk of corneal infection when using cosmetic lenses compared to prescription contacts lenses is 12.5 times higher, as shown in a recent study

“In the past year we have received numerous incident reports from optometrists who have treated patients with serious cases of infection, corneal ulcers, corneal abrasion, allergic reactions and swelling resulting from novelty contact lenses,” said Dr. Paul Geneau, CAO president.
Read more here: Cosmetic contact lenses may cause blindness, warn doctors

You may think it’s not a big deal if you wear them for just one night…. Lots of people have prescribed contact lenses from their doctor for occasional wear! However, the risk is MUCH, MUCH higher with unprescribed lenses because 1) those lenses have not been approved for safety and 2) you have not been fitted with by a licensed professional.
In this 5 On Your Side clip, Robyn Rouse talks about wearing decorative lenses for a short period of time. “I put them in – wore them for 5 minutes… Took them out and went to sleep,” recalled Rouse. “In less than 24 hours – this is something that I have to deal with now for the rest of my life,” she added. Robyn developed an eye infection, which, after 10 years of eye problems, resulted in her having to get a corneal transplant.

There are good options out there for coloured lenses approved by Health Canada! You need to be fitted, even if you want non-prescription “strength” in the lenses. Make an appointment with Dr. Lee and let the staff know you are interested in coloured lenses so we can order in some trials to have ready at your next visit.

If you notice redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contact lenses, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from an optometrist. Eye infections like keratitis can quickly become serious and can cause blindness if left untreated.
Dr. Lee can be reached in Markham at (905) 805-0889 or in Pickering (905) 420-7070

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When In Doubt, Take It Out!

Over the weekend, I encountered someone who was unwilling to stop wearing his contact lenses despite redness and irritation. This was at a social event, so I was unable to examine him properly, but I urged him to remove his lenses and visit his optometrist the next day. The rule of thumb is when in doubt, take it out! This is why it’s also important for contact lens wearers to have a good pair of glasses with a current prescription, in the event that you are unable to wear your contacts. He didn’t like wearing his glasses because the vision was not as good as with his contacts (perhaps an outdated prescription). For other people, it may be a vanity reason. In that case, it’s worth remembering that a big, red, drippy eye is not attractive either!

It is just not worth the risk. I was reminded of a recent news article where a student lost her eyesight as a result of over-wearing her contact lenses. She did not remove her limited-wear, disposable contact lenses for six months, and even wore them when swimming. Contact lenses decrease the amount of oxygen available to the cornea, especially when sleeping (even over one night!). This leaves them unhealthy and vulnerable to infection. Compounded with the bacteria from shower water and swimming pool water clinging onto the contacts, and you’ve got a recipe for an infection.

This girl was particularly unlucky, because Acanthamoeba infections are rare and extremely devastating for the cornea, but there are other bacteria in tap water and on the skin which are much more common and can also cause infections when the eyes are left vulnerable with contact lens over-wear. This case underscores the importance of using contact lenses as prescribed, taking them out every night, and disinfecting them with new solution every night

If your eyes look red, feel sore or painful, or have a gooey discharge, take your contacts out ASAP and go see your optometrist!

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