Avoid irritating your eyes this fall with these safety tips

Doctor warns that you should be extra careful with specialty contact lenses

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fall is here and many of us enjoy getting outdoors, whether it's to go camping or just dressing up for Halloween. But some of these autumn activities can pose problems for our eyes.

With how warm the weather outside has been, it may seem hard to believe that we'll soon be turning on the heat inside our homes. That, along with other irritants, can make your eyes feel dry and lousy. Symptoms include stinging, burning, itching, blurred vision, and trouble wearing your contacts.

"For some people, over-the-counter drops work nicely, but there are prescription eye drops, there are punctal plugs," Dr. Kimberly Riordan with Florida Eye Specialists said. "The one we do is called Lipoflow. That's an in-office treatment to really get through to the problem when people have oil-deficiency dry eye."

Another potential source of eye irritation? The nifty specialty contact lenses we tend to buy this time of year to make our eyes resemble those of a cat or ghoul.

"Although it can really make your outfit, you have to be careful because what do people do?" Riordan said. "They go to the internet and they buy them online, which is okay if you're an experienced contact lens wearer and you have a valid prescription."

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She noted that consumers might want to be careful because some lenses are sold by out-of-country vendors who don't follow U.S. product regulations. So that means you might be getting lenses that are not stored in proper solution, which can lead to infection.

Riordan warned that people should never use tap water to clean their contact lenses. She also recommended washing your hands before handling them, using solution to clean your lenses and lens case and replacing your lens case once a month.

As an aside, don't forget your sunglasses. Many people will stop wearing them during the fall and winter months, but Riordan said you should absolutely wear sunglasses year round, especially here in Florida.