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Why your glasses might be causing those breakouts

I’ve been wearing reading glasses for almost 10 years now. I tried contacts and still wear them occasionally, but truth be told, I’m all about the convenience and ease of readers — that is, until my face started breaking out.

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At first I thought it was just my rosacea. Showing up in my 40s, it can be exacerbated by my love for running, addiction to Sriracha and the occasional glass of red wine. Never did I think my glasses would be problem.

However, a couple of years ago, I noticed something different about my breakouts. They were forming a pattern across the bridge of my nose and were accompanied by dryness and itching. Going back to my contacts, I soon grew tired of the challenge they posed — getting them into both eyes correctly was the biggest hurdle, but altering my depth perception was another. Patients trust me to analyze their facial asymmetry and skin concerns — my vision needs to be perfect.

I eventually pulled out my readers but made sure that I was careful to follow all the rules of keeping them clean and off my head. Soon, the redness and itching returned.

After some research into my dilemma, I found that allergies could be playing a role. Apparently, many people have an allergy to nickel, which is commonly used in frames. Pitching all of my metal glasses into a box, I continued on with the plastic variety, to no avail. I was resembling a circus clown with a huge, honking red nose!

Determined to find a fix for my skin, I made an appointment with my dermatologist, stopped all skin-care products except for a very mild cleanser and a benign moisturizer and learned all I could about eyeglass frames.

I’d only researched which frame shape would look best on me — who knew there was so much more to learn?

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Apparently, most plastic glasses are made of zyl, which is short for zylonite, or cellulose acetate — a combination of cottonseed fibers, wood flakes, plasticizers and stabilizers. Zyl is the most commonly used material because you can get any type of texture, color or pattern you want. There’s also a difference in the quality of zyl, with Mazzucchelli zyl from Italy considered one of the best.

Next there are metal frames — monel, titanium, nickel silver and stainless steel. Monel, nickel silver and stainless all contain nickel, which is usually the cause of allergic reactions. However, titanium is considered hypoallergenic because it doesn’t contain nickel.

Okay, now I know I should purchase titanium frames if I’m going to continue wearing glasses. Next, it’s on to my derm appointment.

Self-conscious of my ever increasing redness, now complete with a large cyst on one cheek, I put aside my vanity and casually walk into the dermatologist’s office sans makeup — only to be greeted by a full waiting room. Holding my head high, I sit and wait.

Once in with my doctor, she agrees my skin is in desperate need of intervention and that glasses might be part of the issue — but only part. My rosacea is out of control and an aggressive treatment plan is in order, glasses or no glasses. Leaving the office with a three-month prescription of Doxycycline and samples of various rosacea medications, I feel somewhat defeated.

I really wanted my breakout to be all about my glasses. It would have been such an easy fix. However, knowing it could be a part, albeit a small part, of the picture, I have now changed out my glasses for hypoallergenic ones — just in case.

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