1. #1
    Rush2112's Avatar
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    Default I'm considering contact lenses

    I used the search function, couldn't find the answer to my specific question (though there is talk of contact lenses) and the most recent related thread is locked.

    I've been wearing glasses since the age of four. Last fall while taking FF1, I encountered the first problem in all these years that I couldn't overcome RE: my glasses. That is, where the hell do I keep them safe, and how the hell do I see with them off? There is no way. In a job where you may have to transition from doing work with your SCBA off your face to masking up for another task in a job where time = lives/property glasses are just not an option.

    Tomorrow, I'm going to get an update for my glasses script and am seriously considering contacts as well as a new pair of glasses. Lasik is future option, but not yet. So anyway, my instructors basically said I'm SOL on contacts because the super-dry air in SCBAs would dry out my eyes and incapacitate me. A mask insert would not help due to the previously mentioned transitions between masked and unmasked.

    I saw in the locked thread that many of you sight-deficient types actually wear contacts with your SCBA. So my question is this: Was the information I got from my instructors (who don't wear glasses OR contacts) erroneous?

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    I wore contacts for the first 2 or 3 years I was a firefighter with no issues. The catch here was that I had been wearing contacts for 20 years before I became a firefighter and understood very well what I could and couldn't do with them in. My eyes were very accustomed to the contacts and would tolerate a lot.

    Being new to contacts you will be limited for a while in how long and under what conditions you can wear them. Eventually you may be able to tolerate wearing them with your SCBA, but it will take a while.

    The best recommendation that I can give right now is to get a hard glasses case and keep an old pair of glasses in that case in the inside pocket of your turnout coat.

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    I was the same as Eng34FF. I wore contacts for 10 years before wearing them as a FF and also never had a problem with drying out. All this in hot and low humidity summers of Colorado too. No issues, but everyone's different.

    I eventually did the corrective eye surgery because my eyes developed a prob with torrerating contacts, but not because of SCBA use or drying out.

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    Eng34FF- summed it up very well.

    I wear my conacts everyday i am on duty. I even sleep in them for that 24 hour shift. Obviously i take them out when i get home and such. It will just take you awhilie to get use to them. Start out slow and wear them a few hours each day. Try to do some training in your scba once you get acustom to wearing them.

    Only problem i run into is after a good rip snorting fire. Sometimes, i have to trash a pair because they are so dirty and they get "pitted."

    It is possible to wear them with scba. rewetting drops can help the situation. Heck i even swim in mine and never have a problem

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    I have wore contacts for 25 years....my whole career. No problems at all....just keep a spare set of contact and glasses at the station, just in case. I have the ones that are extended ....work very well.
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    Thanks for the replies, guys. Concise and informative. I've decided to get the contacts, but we'll see how my eyes tolerate them before I commit to wearing them full-time, especially with SCBA.

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    Sveral of our guys wear contacts and have no problems with them while wearing an SCBA. I wear glasses and have a insert in my mask. I carry a hard case in my coat pocket. I put my glasses in my case and put my mask on and when coming out of the building or given the all clear for no packs I take my mask off and put my glasses on. It's not that big of a deal.

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    I've worn glasses and contacts for the first 10 years of my service.

    Then I got the LASIK done about ten years or so ago...

    I've never regretted it.

    If you can swing it money-wise you won't regret it.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

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    FWIW, my dept. specifies that you can wear contacts with SCBA only after 6 months of wearing contacts without issue. I had contacts about 10 years ago, then had issues with them and went back to glasses. Now if I went back to contacts I'd still have to refrain until I was good and adjusted to them. IIRC, cadets were forbidden from wearing them in the academy. Lasik was not an option for me last time I looked into it about 5 years ago, I don't think that technology has changed enough to make me a candidate for it now.

    I have the mask insert. When we get a job, I usually toss my glasses in an inner coat pocket (accessible with just the velcro flap) and have not had issues. The one time I did was when I left them in a "safe" place instead, by the time I got back to them they were toast. The rest of that job I had to walk around with my insert medical-taped to my face. Carry a spare pair.
    Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

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    i wore contacts for a couple of years but i started getting dry eye. So.. I got the Lasik eye surgery. It was one of the best investments that I have ever made.

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    I've worn contacts for probably 7-8 years now. No problem with SCBA. Maybe I just blink more when I'm on air?

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    I got glasses when I was in the 3rd grade. I wore contacts for several years before getting into the fire service and like the other guys said, no problems what so ever. I would highly recommend getting LASIK though. It is worth every penny!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rush2112 View Post
    ............. So anyway, my instructors basically said I'm SOL on contacts because the super-dry air in SCBAs would dry out my eyes and incapacitate me. A mask insert would not help due to the previously mentioned transitions between masked and unmasked.

    I saw in the locked thread that many of you sight-deficient types actually wear contacts with your SCBA. So my question is this: Was the information I got from my instructors (who don't wear glasses OR contacts) erroneous?
    Based on my experiences, yes, your instructors don't know what they are talking about on this subject.

    I've been wearing contacts longer than I've been in the fire service, the last 13 years wearing disposable extended-wear contacts. Absolutely no problems with them and SCBA use.

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    I second FireMedic's response. I wear contacts (Ciba Night and Day) and I've never had a problem with SCBA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng34FF View Post
    I wore contacts for the first 2 or 3 years I was a firefighter with no issues. The catch here was that I had been wearing contacts for 20 years before I became a firefighter and understood very well what I could and couldn't do with them in. My eyes were very accustomed to the contacts and would tolerate a lot.

    Being new to contacts you will be limited for a while in how long and under what conditions you can wear them. Eventually you may be able to tolerate wearing them with your SCBA, but it will take a while.

    The best recommendation that I can give right now is to get a hard glasses case and keep an old pair of glasses in that case in the inside pocket of your turnout coat.
    Having worn contacts for nearly 25 years, I couldn't agree more with Eng34FF's statement. Then I made a decision that really altered my life - I had lasik surgery. Yeah, its a cashy investment, but over the course of 25 years, what I spent on yearly eye exams, contacts, glasses, solutions, etc, was far more than what I spent on having lasik. Plus I was able to wear a SCBA mask a month after the surgery. Given it takes time to learn the trade, that one month was spent studying for my FF1 exam and learning the ropes around my station.

    Look into getting a small bank loan to possibly pay for the surgery. If you're a good canditate for it, its well worth the investment.

    Otherwise, carry spare solution, a spare set of glasses and if you have them, a spare set of contacts in your gear/locker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ltmdepas3280 View Post
    I have wore contacts for 25 years....my whole career. No problems at all....just keep a spare set of contact and glasses at the station, just in case. I have the ones that are extended ....work very well.
    Ditto...Same situation for me with the exception of 18 years for me...

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    Worn contacts for over 20 years now, 15 in the fire service with no issues. At the recommendation of the eye doc, switched to "Air Optics Night & Day" about 2 years ago. I always wore regular contacts 20-30 days. These are meant to be worn a week or 10 days without taking them out. I wear them on average 60-90 days without rewetting or taking them out. I **** you not. Doesnt please the doc, but he has seen no detriment. They are porous, so they breath and dont deprive the eye of oxygen in the areas covered by the lens. They also decrease the chance of infection significantly because they are porous. Talk it over with your doc if you can. Still plan to do lasix when I can.

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    Ive worn Glasses all my life, I don't like wearing contacts(doesn't feel right) so I just keep a good hard case in my coat pocket and i have an insert in my mask, you just gotta swap out when you take your mask off and put it on, no big deal takes less than 30 seconds.

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    You should be fine in contacts. You may want to consider daily wear disposables they are a lot easier on the eyes and if you have to trash a pair you haven't lost alot. Contacts use to be taboo with respirators via OSHA. The old style hard contacts were thought to be dangerous due to the potential for chemicals to get under them. Also soft contacts will absorb chemicals in a saturated chemical environment. Saw it once in 84 a girl got hydrochloric acid vapor in eyes and it welded them to her eye balls. So as far a firefighting get the contacts.

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    I've worn contacts off and on for most of my career with no problems -- including back in the days when OSHA technically frowned on them.

    You've gotten good advice above. All I'd add is that you need to keep a couple of extra pairs of lenses and saline at work and don't be shy about tossing a pair after any potential significant hazmat exposures.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Just to reiterate...LASIK is the best investment I have made to date. Didn't have the money, got a line of credit to pay. Still worth it. Save and plan for it, you will be very appreciative of the difference. I got the most modern technique in the AM, and same day PM I was driving to the 7-11 for a 6-pack.
    The good thing about this job is that we have done so much, with so little, for so long that we can do everything with nothing...... which is what is wrong with this job.
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