Do barbecues actually melt contact lenses?
Amazingly, one of the most common questions that contact lens wearers ask Optometrists is whether their lenses could melt onto their eyes when using a BBQ grill. Looking for a quick answer to this “burning” question? Well, here it is: no.
If you want a more detailed explanation, then you’ve come to the right place. This post will explore why this question has become such a 'hot' topic in recent years and why you need not fear grilling ribs outdoors.
The Origins Of The BBQ Melting Contact Lenses Myth
Like many myths in our tech-savvy 21st century, fears over contact lenses melting while barbequing began on the internet. Although we don’t know who started this rumour or where it began, we do know that a Facebook post went viral in 2013 with the following message:
A 21 year old guy had worn a pair of contact lenses during a barbecue party.(An event or meal at which food is cooked outdoors over an open grill or fire). While barbecuing he stared at the fire charcoals continuously for 2-3 minutes. After a few minutes, he started to scream for help and moved rapidly, jumping up and down. No one in the party knew why he was doing this.
Then he was admitted into the Hospital, the doctor said he’d be blind permanently because of the contact lenses that he had worn. Contact lenses are made of plastic, and the heat from the charcoal melted his contact lenses.
DO NOT WEAR CONTACT LENSES WHERE OVERHEATING AND FLAMES ARE CONCERNED…. OR WHILE COOKING…!
Friends if u feel the information is important, Please share this message with all your near & dear ones.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time there have been anonymous reports of contact lenses melting due to extreme heat. It’s not unheard of for welders to claim their contact lenses melted into their eyes as they were in their job station. Like the BBQ story above, however, all of these claims are unsubstantiated by eyewitnesses, doctors, and current scientific research.
The Facts On Contact Lenses & Extreme Heat
There are many ways to disprove the theory that contact lenses could melt when exposed to the heat of a grill. Perhaps the most convincing evidence, however, has to do with an intensive heating procedure known as autoclaving.
Autoclaving is essential for disinfecting new contact lenses before they hit the market. During this standardized operation, contact lenses are placed in boiling water that usually reaches temps around 121 degrees Celsius. Obviously, the contact lenses don’t melt into the water during autoclaving, which means it’s even less likely they will melt when simply looking at a grill.
Besides autoclaving, contact lenses have to be put through a wide variety of safety screenings before health agencies allow them into the marketplace. To date, the only advisories visual health advocates repeatedly make for contacts are to never expose lenses to water (due to possible infection) and to always remove lenses before bedtime. There’s still no evidence contact lenses could easily melt while hovering over a fire.
The fact is, contact lenses aren’t going to melt to your eye or cornea while hanging out and cooking hot dogs. In fact, firefighters wear contact lenses. If you wear contact lenses, you are perfectly fine to sit by a fire, watch the grill, or cook to your heart’s desire without fear of going blind, be aware of smoky BBQs they can make your eyes teary, increasing the risk of losing a lens.
Besides the mountains of scientific evidence, this “BBQ melting myth” doesn’t even stand up to the scrutiny of good ol’ common sense. Consider how many millions of people wear contact lenses every day. Now think about how pretty much all of these contact lens wearers probably stare at hot objects like stovetops, ovens, and, yes, outdoor grills on a regular basis. If contact lenses really melted so easily by all these average home appliances, wouldn’t there be thousands upon thousands of reported cases in the media?
BBQ Is a Joke, but UV Isn’t
It’s easy to laugh at the BBQ contact lens rumour, but protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV rays is no laughing matter. No, we’re not saying the sun’s rays can melt your contact lenses, but prolonged exposure to UV radiation has been linked with many potentially blinding eye conditions.
Whether or not you wear contact lenses, it’s good eye care practice to wear UV-blocking sunglasses whenever you go outside. Luckily for you, we have our own sunglasses page offering the finest models in UV protection. Click this link to see all of the UV-blocking technology now available on our website.
We Offer “Burn-Free” Contact Lenses!
So long as you practice good hygiene, there’s very little chance your contact lenses will cause you any problems…especially at BBQ parties. We have a wide selection of lenses that meet everyone’s preferences. On our site, you’ll also find plenty of contact lens solutions, re-wetting drops, lens cases, and more to help you practice perfect contact hygiene. Be sure to take your time exploring our site for all your contact lens needs.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 29 Jul 2017, Last modified: 3 Jan 2023