So you finally made the decision to switch from glasses to contacts. This can feel like a rite of passage, and many people get very excited about the switch. After all, you won’t have to worry about wiping your glasses lenses throughout the day, can participate in athletics and outdoor sports much more easily and enjoy a natural field of vision, too.
But, along with the benefits of contact lenses come some challenges and anxieties. You have to learn about cleaning your contacts properly, as well as tips and tricks for putting in contacts. You might worry about them tearing (this is rare) or getting stuck behind your eye (they almost certainly won’t). To help you get started on this new journey with confidence, here are some tips for first time contact lens wearers.
1. Keep them clean.
Hygiene with contact lenses is key to having a good experience with wearing them. Prior to handling contact lenses, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and dry them just as thoroughly. When you first open a new package of lenses, rinse them in saline solution. When you remove your lenses at night, be sure to use the solution your doctor recommended, along with the right case. For example, consider a solution like Clear Care. If you put it in a regular contact case (and not the one provided with it), it won’t work the way it’s supposed to. It can even damage your contacts - and your eyes when you go to put them in.
2. Ask your doctor to teach you how to put them in your eyes correctly.
There are a lot of tips and tricks for putting in contacts, and ultimately you’ll need to figure out which method works best for you. But a great starting point is to ask your doctor to teach you. We usually recommend placing your lens on a clean and dry index or middle finger and putting a drop of saline in it. Then, gently pull down your lower lid with one finger while pulling up the upper lid with another. Look up or sideways, and carefully place the contact lens on the white part of your eye. Blink a couple of times until it feels like the lens is situated comfortably in the middle of the eye.
Also, before you do all this, make sure your lenses are right side out. They should look like a “U” shape or a cup shape when they’re in the proper position. Some brands include letters on the lens you can look for to double check this. If the letters look normal, the lens is ready to be inserted into your eye. If the letters appear backward or upside down, the contact needs to be flipped the other way.
One of the best tips for first time contact lens wearers is to take a breath. Embrace the fact that there’s a learning curve, and you probably won’t get your lenses in successfully on the first try. You may not even get them in on the second, third or fourth try. This is normal. You’ve never had to put something in your eyes before, and the idea of this can cause some anxiety. Just try again. And pro tip: If you’re above a sink when you’re putting your contacts in, plug the drain first. This way, a falling contact lens won’t accidentally slip away into your plumbing.
4. Follow the wearing schedule.
When you get your contacts for the first time, your doctor will recommend the wearing schedule to get your eyes acclimated to the lens. In addition, each type of contact lens comes with its own recommended wearing schedule. The packaging should be clear about when to wear the lenses and for how long each day. It should also tell you when it’s time to open a new pair. No matter what, don’t sleep in your contacts and don’t try to make them last longer than they’re intended. Both of these practices can cause infections, or even damage your vision.
5. Follow your doctor's recommendations.
Ultimately, your doctor knows best. If you have a question or concern about your lenses, ask your doctor. If something doesn’t feel right about the fit of your lenses, schedule an appointment to try a different brand or type. If you’re experiencing discomfort or pain, call your eye doctor right away.
The bottom line is that switching from glasses to contacts can be an exciting time that boosts your quality of life. Odds are good you’ll end up mastering the art of putting in your contacts, and will love this new way of life. But remember there is a lot to learn, along with a natural learning curve when you get started. Please contact us to schedule an eye exam and contact consultation, or to learn more tips for first time contact lens wearers.