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DOCTOR, I HAVE A QUESTION
Question answered by:
Jillia E. Bird, OD, MS
President, World Glaucoma Patient Association
Is it safe to use eye makeup after glaucoma surgery?
Avoiding bacterial contamination is the paramount concern going into any type of surgery and more especially any form of intraocular surgery. Before any eye surgery, your surgeon will give you a special packet of shampoos and soaps to make sure the areas around your eyes including your hair are well cleaned of eye liner, mascara and any other eye makeup. The goal is to achieve a sterile environment – one that should be maintained for several weeks after your surgery. Make sure your doctor tells you when you can start wearing makeup again.
When it comes to eye makeup products, certain rules should apply at all times. Select water-based rather than oil-based products that are gentler on the eye -- especially an eye healing from surgery. The fact that they dissolve in water makes removal quicker and easier without excessive rubbing. Cotton balls soaked in warm water or pre-moistened eye makeup removal pads should do the job.
Rhinestone Studded Eyelashes -
Don't Even Think About It!
Avoid pearlized and iridescent eye shadows that may contain ingredients that could scratch your eye. And if you care about your eyes, definitely stay away from false eyelashes and the newest craze in jeweled eyebrows and lashes. Apart from the obvious danger of foreign bodies loose in the eye, the adhesives used as well as the solvents used to remove those adhesives are very corrosive to the eye and removing the lashes can be dangerous. Perhaps most serious, don’t even consider permanent tattooing on your eye lids or any other part of the eye. It can be extremely dangerous.
If you are a glaucoma patient already using the prostaglandin group of eyedrops, (Xalatan, Travatan, Lumigan) you may already be aware of the longer, thicker, darker lashes that occur as a pleasing side effect of this particular group of drugs. Latisse, the now popular new eyelash grower, is actually a version of one of those glaucoma drugs called bimatoprost (brand name Lumigan). Since the prostaglandins’ introduction in 2001, eye doctors and their glaucoma patients had noticed the hair growth side effect, with longer, lusher eyelashes appearing over time. The mechanism of this pleasant side effect is not fully understood. However, care is needed in using Latisse since it does lower intraocular pressure and your doctor needs to know you’re using it in addition to other glaucoma medication. Also follow application instructions carefully since Latisse can cause unintended hair growth in adjacent skin areas as well as darkening of the surrounding skin. It has also been known to cause dry, red, itchy eyes and iris color changes and is not approved for pregnant women.
Here are some other tips to minimize your eyes’ exposure to bacteria. Don’t hold onto old makeup – throw it away after a few months. Avoid those multi-pack discount packages – too much time for bacteria and fungi to multiply and for those germs to transfer directly to your eyes. Never share cosmetics with a friend. Never apply your eye makeup while you’re driving in a car or riding in a bus or train – too easy for the mascara wand to scratch your cornea.
CAUTION WHEN DRIVING
Don’t talk on your mobile phone while driving…especially if you have glaucoma. A recent study showed that glaucoma patients had an even greater decline in driving performance while talking on a mobile phone as compared to healthy subjects. Using driving simulation to investigate performance during distracted driving compared to driving without a mobile phone, the decrease in driving performance while conversing on a mobile phone was two times higher for those with glaucoma.
WE ARE LOOKING FOR STORIES TO SHARE
One of the most popular features of TGF’s Eye to Eye newsletter and electronic newsletter update has been our “Lifestyle Connection/Living with Glaucoma” series, in which glaucoma patients, inspiring and often courageous, have shared their personal stories. We’ve featured a teenager who lives life to the fullest, a triathlete who makes news, an active 90-year-old woman who shared fine advice, among others.
We are always looking for individuals whose lives have been impacted by glaucoma and whose experiences can inform others. If you would like to share your own story, or suggest another, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOW VISION RESOURCES
Glaucoma-related vision loss can be distressing. But there are many resources available -- people to help you cope with changes in your lifestyle and technology to help you maximize your remaining eyesight and make everyday life easier and more fulfilling.
Low vision is a permanent loss of vision that won't improve with eyeglasses, medicine or surgery. The National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, has an informative booklet to help people adapt, called Living with Low Vision: What You Should Know. It can be viewed and downloaded at nei.nih.gov/lowvision
The booklet urges people with low vision to seek help from a low vision specialist, among other suggestions. In addition to discussing this with your eye doctor, Prevent Blindness provides a comprehensive list of resources for people with low vision, including 1600 links and contacts to US agencies, centers, organizations and societies (by state), assistive technology products, services and much more. Go to lowvision.preventblindness.org
Another helpful website is VisionAware.org, sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation with information for adults with vision loss, their families, caregivers, healthcare providers, and social service professionals.
Advances in Electronic Devices
Both Apple and Android-based smartphones and tablets offer a range of apps and built-in functions to help people with low vision. Today’s devices let you change word size, adjust lighting and use voice commands. There also are many apps to choose from, such as programs that read material aloud, magnify, or illuminate.
E-Readers, such as Kindle®, Nook® and others, allow you to change font size and contrast and read outdoors without the glare one would normally experience with a tablet. While they do not have text to speech capability, if you already own an iPad or Android tablet there are free Apps which support the voice-over accessibility feature.
There are also computers that can read aloud or magnify what is on the screen and talking items such as watches, timers, blood pressure cuffs, and blood sugar machines. For readers who want to keep up to date with articles of interest, there is choicemagazinelistening.org, which provides audio recordings of memorable articles, stories, interviews, essays and poems from current magazines, free to the visually impaired.
For detailed articles on how to use the assistive capabilities of many of the available devices, and a searchable database of assistive technology products, American Foundation for the Blind has comprehensive information online at afb.org.
In addition to special lighting equipment available from numerous manufacturers, a gooseneck lamp with at least a 60 watt light bulb directed over a page or directed onto a task can be helpful for reading and close-up work. A flashlight App on a smartphone will help reading menus in restaurants and more.
Other low-tech lighting tips: increase the amount of light in your home, add more lamps in lower light areas, reduce glare inside and out, create more contrast around the house.
For some, digital devices and apps offer good options for portable, lower-cost low vision aids. Others may need different devices and aids as well as vision rehabilitation to achieve their best possible vision.
OCT IMAGING OF THE EYE
Your eye doctor has an array of sophisticated tools to help diagnosis glaucoma and measure its progression. Since optic nerve damage cannot be reversed, it is critical to detect glaucoma and its progression as early as possible. Close surveillance using structural as well as functional testing – and early intervention – are key to keeping glaucoma under control and preserving sight.
One of these tools is optical coherence tomography, commonly referred to as OCT. OCT is a non-invasive imaging test that uses light waves to take high-resolution cross-section pictures of your retina, providing doctors with precise measurements of the thickness of the retina and optic nerve tissue. Structural changes associated with glaucoma, e.g. thinning of the nerve fiber layer, may be detected before damage can be picked up by other tests, such as visual field perimetry. After glaucoma is diagnosed, scans taken over time may show progression of the disease and whether your treatment is working.
OCT is also now often used for imaging before cataract surgery to detect disease like macular degeneration that might limit the success of cataract surgery in glaucomatous and non-glaucomatous patients.
For the OCT test, you sit in front of the OCT machine and rest your head on a support to position your head correctly. Drops may be put into your eyes to dilate your pupils. You will be asked to look at a blinking target and the scans will be taken without the machine touching your eye.
OCT technology, first introduced in 1991, continues to advance, offering the prospect of its use to detect other glaucomatous changes within the eye.
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