If you’ve never worn contacts before, the idea of putting lenses in can seem rather strange. For many people, it requires some work to overcome the natural inclination to prevent things from coming anywhere near your eyes. However, with a little bit of practice, you can become a contact lens pro in no time, and have the option to wear glasses or go without them whenever you choose.
Here are some simple tips to get you used to your contact lenses as quickly as possible and some frequent early adjustment-symptoms you can expect in the first little while of wear.
Give Yourself Time to Learn
First and foremost, you are going to need practice. If putting in contacts is brand new to you, make sure to start wearing them on a day when you’re not in a hurry to get somewhere. Getting comfortable placing the lens on your eye will likely take some time, and you don’t want to be adding the stress of getting to work on time on top of that. Even if you have been practicing, make sure to give yourself a little extra time the first day you plan to wear your lenses to the office. And remember to be patient with yourself. You’re asking your brain to learn a new and delicate skill.
Start With Clean Hands
It’s invariably a good idea to regularly wash your hands. However, it’s extra important before handling your contacts. Not only is it essential that your lenses stay clear so as not to impede your vision, but you also don’t want to introduce any foreign debris in between the contact surface and your eye that could become an irritant. If you wear make-up, be sure to but your contacts in before applying anything to your face.
Start with the Same Eye Every Time
Of course, it doesn’t make any difference which eye you do first. However, by establishing a routine of always doing either the left of the right eye to start, you create a habit that will help keep you from mixing up your lenses. In the commotion of the morning, it can be easy to get distracted right when you most need to focus.
Set a Contact Schedule
In the beginning, it can be helpful to establish exactly how long you will wear your contacts on any given day. Many new wearers will use the workday as their starting place. They put their contact lenses in before work and, after five, they switch to glasses for the remainder of the evening. While early on you’ll likely be looking forward to taking them out at the designated time, before too long, you’ll need to be reminding yourself to remove them before bed.
Be Prepared for a Little Lens Movement
A concern we regularly hear from patients who are new to contact lenses is that it feels like they’re moving around on the surface of the eye. Of course, they are moving, and this is a good thing. Your contacts are designed to sit lightly on the surface of your eyes and still allow air and moisture to pass below them. And, while this movement can feel a little strange at first, most patients no longer notice it after about a month of regular wear.
A Little Irritation is Normal
For many first-time contact wearers, they will experience a bit of minor agitation after putting their lenses in, early on. Which can cause them to wonder if there is something wrong with the contacts. However, minor irritations, in the beginning, are very common and should pass after about 15 minutes of wearing the lenses. If the trouble persists, don’t hesitate to reach out to your optometrist for advice.
There Might be Tears
A few tears are ok. When you place an object on the surface of your eye, even one designed to be there, your biology will often respond by over lubricating. It’s a natural reaction, and after a bit of regular wear, your body will accept that your contacts are there to stay and adjust to the new normal. Of course, the abundance of tears can sometimes also cause a little blurriness in your vision, so be careful to stop any activities that require especially clear eyesight.
Like a Deer in the Headlights
You may also find that you are blinking a lot more than usual when you’re adjusting to new contacts. And while it may feel strange, it’s an entirely normal part of your body adjusting to the lenses. This symptom of adjustment, like the others mentioned, will also subside with a bit of regular wear. In the meantime, the blinking will help keep your contacts positioned right where you want them. You may even notice a bit of light sensitivity during this early phase, which will no doubt add to the excess blinking. This symptom, too, will pass as your eyes adjust in those first few weeks.
Blink Twice for Yes
While excessive blinking is a usual symptom of adjusting to new lenses, steady, controlled blinks will assist you in recentering a contact that has gone askew. If you feel that one of your lenses has moved off the cornea, take a moment, breathe, and blink your eyelid until it has moved back into place.
Keep this Step-by-step Guide Handy to Reduce the Stress
When you’re getting used to contact lenses, it can sometimes feel a little nerve-racking. It’s helpful to have instructions ready to walk you through the process. By the end of the first week, you’re sure to be confident and prepared to go it alone.
Putting them on
- Give your lens case or packaging a light shake to ensure the contacts are not stuck to the side. By making sure they are floating in the solution, you will avoid the need to move them with your finger and will reduce the potential for damage.
- Gently move the lens into your hand and rinse it with a small amount of contact solution.
- Be sure your hands are dry and place the lens on either your first or second finger, whichever feels more comfortable.
- With the fingers and thumb of your opposite hand, push your eyelids apart, so your eye feels extra open.
- Next, look up and place the lens directly on your eye. If you find this too difficult, you can also try the side method. For this, you put the contact on the white of the eye closest to your ear.
- When the lenses are on, close your eyelids and gently roll your eyes in a circle. Following this, you want to blink several times slowly. Because your contacts are designed to sit on the front of your eye, these motions will guide them into the right place.
- Finally, take a quick look in the mirror to make sure your contacts are centred. If they feel a little off, try repeating step six to get them into the right place.
Taking them off
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Too often, people introduce contaminants into their eyes because they’re too impatient to take off their contacts.
- Cover the drain with a clean piece of paper towel to prevent a lens from accidentally ending up down the pipes.
- Look up at the same time you pull down on your bottom eyelid. With your index finger, gently shift the lens over to the white of your eye. Once it’s there, you can very gently pinch the contact together with your index finger and thumb and lift it away from your eye.
- If they are single-use contacts, you should dispose of them immediately. You don’t want to try and extend the lenses beyond their prescribed lifespan. If you have the multi-day variety, you will want to get them into their case with some solution right away. With proper care, you can be sure they will be clean and ready to go the next time you want to wear them.
Take it One Day at a Time
As with most new activities, when you are acclimatizing to contact lenses, it takes a little bit of time. In the beginning, be patient with yourself, and don’t worry if getting used to them takes some trial and error. And while moderate annoyances are to be expected, if you experience prolonged problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to your optometrist for advice, we’re always happy to be of service.