KANSAS CITY – More than 30 million people in the United States wear contact lenses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in four of those contact wearers are older than 45, and two-thirds are women.
Why would plastic surgeons be interested in these statistics about contact lens wearers? Dr. Federico Gonzalez, a board-certified plastic surgeon at Premier Plastic Surgery of Kansas City (PPSKC), explains:
“Researchers have found a correlation between contact wearers and drooping eyelids. While contacts provide obvious vision benefits, it appears upper lid laxity may be a side effect. I’d love to see more research devoted to this topic, especially in how these findings might impact the field of plastic surgery.”
In a study conducted by Dr. Bahman Guyuron, a plastic surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio, both hard and soft lenses were linked to “ptosis” of the upper eyelids, a medical condition that affects facial aesthetics, as well as vision in some cases. Data on 96 pairs of identical twins was used in the study published recently in Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the official publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Each twin in the study had some degree of upper eyelid laxity, but when measured, hard lens wearers showed more severity – with a mean ptosis of 1.84 mm. Soft lens wearers showed 21.7 percent less slackness with a mean of 1.41 mm. Measurements for subjects who did not wear lenses averaged 1.00 mm.
Researchers also looked at other external factors, including smoking habits, body mass index, sun exposure, alcohol consumption, work-related stress and sleep habits — “none of which had a statistically significant impact on eyelid droopiness,” according to conclusions published in the journal report.
“A millimeter is a small unit of measurement – like a grain of salt, but it’s significant when it involves the eyelids,” explained Dr. Gonzalez. “Drooping eyelids can hinder vision, as well as give a person the appearance of being tired or much older than they actually feel. Eyelid surgery can address those problems.”
Hard plastic contact lenses were first made in the United States around the time of World War II. Soft contact lenses were introduced in 1971. Today, 80 percent of lens wearers use soft contacts, according to the CDC. Contact lenses are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While the surgical term “blepharoplasty” was not coined until the early 1800s, a reference to eyelid excision was made in the first-century book “De Medicina” by Roman encyclopedia writer Aulus Cornelius Celsus.
After analyzing digital photographs and social and medical questionnaires, researchers attributed repeated tugging on the eyelids during placement and removal of contacts for the greater degree of lid droopiness on some twins. To read more about the study, visit the Aesthetic Surgery Journal website.
PPSKC’s certified plastic surgeons – Drs. Gonzalez, Moore and Storm – are highly experienced in the artistry of blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery. If you live in the Kansas City area and would like an expert opinion about droopy eyelids, bags under the eyes, or eyelid asymmetry, call (913) 782-0707 to set up a consultation.