HOW LENSES AFFECT YOUR EYES
Scientists have discovered a link between hard and soft contact lenses, and drooping eyelids, also known as Ptosis.
Ptosis (drooping eyelids) can be a serious worry for your eyes, not only concerning personal appearance but also your ability to see. If left untreated, it can lead to other conditions such as amblyopia, lazy eyes, or astigmatism, blurry and unfocused vision. Some people are born with droopy eyelids but there can be other causes like fatigue or trauma. However, a recent study published in the Aesthetics Surgery Journal indicated that the use of contact lenses could be a significant factor in the cause of acquired ptosis.
Hard contact lenses have been in use for many decades, and though they were once made from glass, modern varieties come in the more comfortable and flexible silicon. They still maintain a certain rigidity, leaving the wearer fully aware of their presence and feeling slightly uncomfortable, despite providing crisper and clearer vision.
By contrast, soft contact lenses are significantly more comfortable and practically unnoticeable to wearers. However, soft lenses are also prone to absorption of foreign matter such as soap and oil due to their water content, and unless they are disposable, require increased regular maintenance.
The study itself aimed to find out why ptosis occurred without genetic influence so the subjects were limited to twins – genetically identical but with some differing in contact lens usage. Out of the two-hundred and eighty-six sets of twins reviewed, ninety-six pairs were found to differ on levels of Ptosis as well as contact lens preference.
The study analysed almost three hundred photographs, which came attached with social and medical history questionnaires, providing an insight into other environmental factors that had been suspected of causing Ptosis. These included alcohol consumption, sun exposure, smoking behaviour, work stress rating, and sleeping habits, all of which have been shown to contribute to the facial aging process. The results of the study show, however, that these factors were less influential in the severity of eyelid drooping.
In the photos analyzed, it appears that twins who wore soft or hard contact lenses would show signs of increased Ptosis, with the more severe cases found in users of hard contact lenses. Their upper eyelids were, on average, found to be drooping by 1.84 millimetres compared to soft lens wearers whose mean ptosis measurement was 1.41 millimetres. Twins who wore no contact lenses were shown to have eyelids drooping on average no further than one millimetre, and though these numbers seem small, according to lead senior Dr Bahman Guruyon, they are quite noteworthy.
"The difference between one millimetre and two may not seem like much, but when it comes to eyelids, it is significant. Plastic surgeons who specialize in surgery of the lower and upper eyelids attest that even a ½ millimetre can make a world of difference when it comes to vision and overall appearance," Guyuron explained.
"Identical twins are genetically destined to have similar facial and eyelid features, so any difference in these structures is primarily related to environmental factors,” said the board-certified plastic surgeon. “We assessed the correlations of many different environmental factors that could contribute to upper eyelid droopy eyelids and wearing contact lenses was the only external factor that was linked. This is attributed to the recurrent traction of the eyelid during placement and removal of the lens."
The photographs used in the study were obtained from a database containing information acquired from the annual Twins Day Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio.
If you’re thinking about getting contacts, learn more about the different types of lenses available.