Medicine for the Outdoors
Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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Managing Contact Lenses in the Wilderness

Bausch & Lomb recently had a recall on its ReNu multi-purpose contact lens solution, because it was linked to serious eye infections caused by fungus of the genus Fusarium. A few researchers believe that the multi-purpose solutions in general are more prone to transmitting infection, for reasons that have yet to be clearly determined.

Regardless of whether or not multi-purpose solutions are riskier than single-purpose solutions, outdoor enthusiasts should note that contact lenses may be more difficult to manage in a wilderness environment for the following reasons:

For these reasons, it’s important to carry at least one, and preferably two, pairs of eyeglasses. If you need reading glasses, carry these as well. Also, be sure that you have sunglasses that block out as much ultraviolet light as possible. Include side shields if you are going to be at high altitude, on snowfields, on the water’s surface, or traversing other highly reflective terrain, such as bright sand.

  1. Should a contact lens become displaced (e.g., fall out of the eye), it may be more easily lost than eyeglasses.
  2. Contact lens solution can degrade or become contaminated by exposure to extreme temperatures, dehydration, or passing over dust and dirt that can accumulate on the threads of bottle caps.
  3. Handling contact lenses with dirty hands can introduce bacteria and fungi to lens or tissues of the eyes.
  4. It may not be easy to change out contact lenses quickly if needed for a different refraction or environmental (e.g., sun or wind exposure) condition.
  5. Once an eye becomes infected, contact lenses must be removed. They should not be re-used if removed because of infection.
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Tags: Backpacking , On the Road , Products

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.