Don't flush your contact lenses down the sink! Contact lens plastics could be dangerous to aquatic life?

Researchers are advising us to stop flushing used contact lenses (CLs) down the sink. Instead put them out with other solid plastic rubbish.

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In the US it is estimated that around 15-20% of the 45 million American contact lens (CL) wearers flush their lenses down the sink or toilet. The result - anywhere from 6 to 10 metric tons of plastic CLs end up in wastewater treatment plants.

CLs are unlike other plastic waste (often made with a combination of polymethylmethacrylate, silicones, and fluoropolymers), so the effect of wastewater treatment on CLs was unknown. This sparked Professor Rolf Halden and colleagues from Arizona State University to find out how CLs break down and whether they pose a threat to aquatic life.

They exposed polymers found in CLs to anaerobic and aerobic micro-organisms (which would be present at wastewater treatment plants).

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They reported, “When the plastic loses its structural strength, it will break down physically, leading to smaller plastic particles which would ultimately lead to the formation of microplastics. Aquatic organisms can mistake microplastics for food and since plastics are indigestible, this dramatically affects the marine animals’ digestive system. These animals are part of a long food chain. Some eventually find their way to the human food supply, which could lead to unwanted human exposure to plastic contaminants and pollutants that stick to the surfaces of the plastics.”

The researchers have also called on CL companies to address the way their products are ultimately disposed.

MiSight® Daily Contact Lenses for Myopia Control

We now have MiSight® Daily Contact Lenses as another option for myopia control. This year at the British Contact Lens Association
(BCLA) meeting some promising results were announced from a three-year study for MiSight®. The results indicate MiSight® dual-
focus contact lenses which have alternating visual correction and treatment zones - are effective in slowing myopia progression in
children by 59%. CooperVision, MiSight® manufacturer, reported data from its Clinical  Contact Lens Study showing these lenses
slowed myopia and eye elongation. 

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The prevalence of myopia is projected to increase from approximately two billion people worldwide in 2010 to an alarming five billion
people in 2050, bringing with it both short  and long-term health challenges. “Myopia’s growth has been dizzying and now affects the
vast majority of young adults in some countries, especially in East Asia,” said Arthur Back, from CooperVision. “Not only does it create
blurred vision, but also increases the likelihood of serious and blinding eye conditions later in life.
“Early intervention by parents, in partnership with optometrists, is essential for the short and long-term health and well being of their
children.”

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The prospective, multi centre, double masked, randomised study enrolled 144 myopic children aged 8-12 years from Singapore,
Canada, England and Portugal. MiSight® was well accepted by the children who continued their daily activities such as school work,
reading, playing outside and computer use while wearing the lenses.  
Parents of participants gave a very positive response, noting that before the study, many were concerned about their children wearing
contacts.  After their children had worn MiSight® 1 day contact lenses for three years, almost 9 out of 10 parents rated their children
‘extremely happy’ with the overall experience. Children could mostly manage their lens wear independently.

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