One of the goals in Unlocking Your Greatness is living your best life. In general, we are supposed to be living longer. The more we learn, the more possible that should be. When there are invisible, harmful chemicals surrounding us it can be challenging..
As I learned about the harmful effects of Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances or PFAS and the dangers of exposure, I upleveled my practices. I bought new cast iron cookware, stopped using that giant spray can of stain treatment, and added a water filter to my drinking water. This was YEARS ago.
I couldn’t believe it when I learned there are PFAS in Contact Lenses!
Even my farily expensive Coopervision lenses are on the list. I have been wearing contacts since I was 14, because my eyes are BAD. So bad, I can’t see the Giant E at my eye exams, and otherwise need thick lenses in my glasses.
Researchers have found that many popular brands of contact lenses are largely made up of these cancer-causing “forever chemicals.” The findings were published by Mamavation, a website that aims to be a “trusted source for moms looking for non-toxic product recommendations.” The team sent 18 pairs of contacts from six different companies to a lab certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The tests, which looked for organic fluorine, a marker for PFAS, returned results that ranged from 105 parts per million to 20,700 parts per million. This is far higher than the EPA’s highest level deemed safe in drinking water.
The PFAS are human-made chemicals that persist in the environment for a long time and do not break down. These chemicals can be found in other household items such as carpeting, clothing, and firefighting equipment, as well as food packaging, wires, and adhesives. The US government doesn’t track PFAS levels in consumer products, but it does monitor the chemicals’ presence in drinking water.
While the PFAS in our drinking water is alarming, there are ways to avoid them in your everyday life. The EPA recommends avoiding cookware with PFAS-coated nonstick pans, and washing your clothes in cold water. You can also replace firefighting gear with a different brand that isn’t coated in PFAS. And, while it might not be as easy to avoid, you can switch from soft disposable contact lenses to reusable ones.
However, it may be hard to know whether you are getting PFAS from your lenses. The tests commissioned by Mamavation and the Environmental Health News public health blog searched for organic fluorine, which is likely to indicate the presence of PFAS, in contact lenses from the leading brands of the time: Acuvue, Alcon, and Coopervision. The results from the lab — which also looked for PFAS in bottled water, soil, and milk — showed that all of the contact lenses contained traces of the chemical.
According to a chemist at Carnegie Mellon University, who wasn’t involved in the study, the fluoropolymers are added to contact lenses to make them soft and allow oxygen to pass through. He says manufacturers use these compounds because they are cheap and effective, but they can be toxic to the eyes and other organs.
He adds that, while the EPA’s latest research on PFAS shows that exposure to the chemical can lead to health issues including liver disease, kidney disease, and autoimmune disorders, there’s no reason to panic. The chemist says it’s important to remember that it is difficult to avoid all exposures to PFAS because they are so widespread in our society. However, he suggests you talk to your optometrist about alternatives. They can help you find a contact lens that performs at the level that you and your ophthalmologist are comfortable with while avoiding PFAS altogether. Or, you could just wear glasses. The results of the PFAS test were published in the journal Environmental Health News on March 18. To learn more, visit the website of the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Campaign.
And remember, don’t panic, but be sure to speak to your optometrist. I know I will be having a conversation.
If there’s any support I can offer, in empowering you to Unlock Your Greatness and live your best life, feel free to visit my website heartsofwellness.com or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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