Do hot pots melt contact lenses?

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Rumors about a Taiwanese man wearing contact lenses being hospitalized with eye trauma after eating hot pot the steam apparently melted the lenses has prompted Vietnamese doctors to warn about the poor awareness of eye safety in the country.

There are no confirmed cases of lenses melting or sticking to the eye, but doctors say wearers have to be vigilant near heat and fire.

Dr. Le Thi Hai Chau, a member of the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology and the Asia-Pacific Prevention of Blindness Association, says people wearing refractive glasses, especially contact lenses, are always warned by doctors to stay away from fire and heat.

"But people usually forget this," Saigon Tiep Thi quotes her as saying.

Dr. Nguyen Dinh Ngan, an ophthalmologist at Vietnam Military Medical University, says there are two kinds of contact lenses, hard and soft, of which the latter, made of silicon hydrogel and easily deformed in high temperatures, including steam, is more popular in Vietnam.

Ngan tells Vietweek in an email that the deformity depends on the rate of hydration of the material, which ranges between 38 and 78 percent.

Yen Lam Phuc, another doctor from the university, tells Vietweek of similar concerns over high temperature with all kinds of glasses.

Dr. Phuc says the glasses absorb the heat and increase the temperature around the eyes, something that is not good for corneal cells.

He also warns that people should not use hot water or dryers with refractive glasses, wear them in a sauna, or put them under motorbike saddles since the heat will damage their quality.

Doctors also warn that infections and other eye-related injuries should be completely prevented since an injured eye never fully heals.

Dr. Vu Anh Le of the Ho Chi Minh City Ophthalmology Hospital says eye injuries account for a high proportion of cases at the hospital.

The most common causes of injuries are being hit by balls, fists, or bottle lids; penetrative injuries by metal debris, soil, rock; and burns from lighter explosions, steam, and substances like glue and quicklime, he says.

Except when there is bleeding, Le advises that the only first aid should be washing the eye before rushing to hospital if still necessary.

People must not try to remove things from their eyes on their own, Saigon Tiep Thi quotes Le as saying.

But the best solution is to protect the eyes from any possible injuries because treatment is never completely effective, he says.

"Eye injury treatment costs a lot of time and money but rarely gives desired results.

"Injuries always leave serious consequences in terms of eyesight and beauty. Sometimes they even lead to blindness or the removal of eyes."

Children should be taught about eye protection and prevented from playing games that could harm their eyes while adults too need to be careful and follow workplace safety regulations, he says.

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