Contact lenses always used to scare me. I remember as a kid my older brother decided to try contacts and he spent ages at the optometrist trying to put them in his eyes. He eyes ended up becoming really bloodshot and irritated after poking at them so much. I remember leaving my brother at the office to go around shopping with my mom in the meantime because he took so long. I thought to myself, I’m never going to do that. He got eye infections very often, too (but now that I’m more educated in contacts, it’s because he didn’t follow all recommended precautions).
There have been a few times where I wish I did have contacts, but the thought of touching my eye (I have a terrible blinking reflex with anything coming near my eye) and the complication of contacts made me like my glasses just fine. Today I still love my glasses for the convenience and fashion, but I’m glad that I am finally giving contacts a chance as well.
I work at an optometry office and I am going to optometry school in August (finally! ) to work towards becoming an eye doctor, so I recently decided it was finally time to tackle my fears and give it a shot. I’m not going to lie, it took me two hours at work trying to get them in and take them out a couple of times (I tried with 3 different brands of contacts that day), leaving my eyes looking like I had watched a soap opera, and I still wasn’t good at it. It wasn’t the best idea to learn insertion and removal with one of the most difficult to handle lenses, but now I am very good with the “easier” lenses at least (hooray!). I used to be terrified of putting eyedrops in my eyes before. If someone like me can handle contacts, that definitely proves it is possible for almost everyone!
Read on for some general information about contact lenses and for my personal tips on how to insert and remove lenses. Contact lenses used to just be beyond me but now that I’m getting better, I thought I’d share for any hopefuls out there.
Some tidbits for those interested in contact lenses:
- Contact lenses should be worn as prescribed to you by your optometrist. Unlike some “one size fits all clothing,” one brand/type of contact lens does not fit everyone. Eye shapes and comfort levels vary. It’s important to check that your eyes are healthy enough and check that you are a good candidate to wear contacts.
- Check the shape of the lens and make sure it is not inside-out before wearing them. Here’s a great article on checking for the shape. It won’t be the end of the world if it’s inside-out, but it won’t be comfortable.
- Never shower with contacts on – avoid having your contact lenses touch tap water at all times (only use saline solution and designated contact lens rewetting drops).
- Keep nails trimmed until you are good at inserting and removing your lenses so that you don’t risk scratching your eye. People going in to learn contacts the first time should NOT wear eye makeup or have long nails (I’ve had to train people who did and it was super difficult).
- Never sleep with contacts on. They’ll get dry since there is no blinking motion to continually lubricate them, your eyes will also get deprived of oxygen as you sleep, and you’ll be more prone to eye infections.
- Avoid wearing contacts ALL the time. You must let your eyes take a break from contacts – they need to breathe!
- Contacts go in first, then makeup. Contacts come off first before removing makeup.
- If it hurts or feels uncomfortable, take it out – you don’t want to gamble with your eyes.
- When taking out your contacts, make sure you clean it and then rinse it with contact lens solution. Do the same before putting them in your eyes if they are dirty or you drop them.
- After your contacts have been stored in solution and you wish to put them in your eyes, rinse them really well in solution and then non-preservative saline solution so that your eye will not get irritated by any chemicals absorbed into the lenses.
- Take control of the lens. Yes, be gentle with them, but be firm and in control. You can pinch them gently between the pads of your fingers. Don’t be afraid to handle them, or else you’ll end up dropping them countless times (I definitely did that at first).
- When learning how to put in and take off contact lenses, don’t give yourself a time frame. Just relax and take it as slow as you need to, stretching it out to different days if you have to. Irritating your eyes and getting frustrated is no fun.
- Wash hands with non-moisturizing soap (if not possible, then rinse longer – it can irritate your eye) and rinse off really well. Dry off with non-linty towel or paper towels. In my case, I always have a problem with lint & having it irritate my eyes, so now I try my best to be patient and air dry my hands (it helps to flick off as much water as possible, wave your hands around, and blow on the fingers you’ll be using to touch the contact).
- Check the shape of the lens. Nice and round bowl shaped edges pointing straight up is the right-side out. Flared out edges and slanted edges is inside-out. Some lenses are numbered (it will read “123” if correct, or will read backwards if inside-out). Another tip is to hold the lens between thumb and index finger and pinch the bottom inwards as if you were going to fold it in half. The right-side out will look like a taco with edges pointing inwards. Inside-out will have the edges pointing outwards. Also, when you place the contact in your palm and rub it with solution, you might notice it’s more difficult if it is inside-out.
- Place lens on index finger of your dominant hand. Having the contact on the very tip of my finger always seems to be difficult, so instead I try putting it on the side of my finger instead.
- Use non-dominant hand to hold upper eyelid open. Use middle finger or ring finger of dominant hand to hold down bottom eyelid. Point your chin down, look up, angling your face so that you expose as much eyeball as possible. Once you get used to it, you may find it easier to just leave your upper eyelid untouched, use your non-dominant hand to hold down your lower eyelid, and just pop in the lenses using your dominant hand. No need to pry both your eyelids open.
- I try to aim as low on my eyeball as possible (more towards the bottom white space). The first few touches always make me want to blink, so I do the top or bottom first to get the sensitive part of my eye more used to the sensation (it feels like when you get a strand of hair stuck in your eye and you want to take it out).
- Once my eye is a bit more used to it, I roll my finger so that I can get the rest of the edges to suction onto my eyeball. It might require a bit of maneuvering around to get all or most of the edges to make contact with the eye, but when the edges are suctioned on there for the most part, I’ll either use my finger to push in the remaining parts or look in different directions before slowly closing my eyes to get all of the contact to suction on. If it isn’t coming off of your finger, dry your finger on the back of your palm and try again. Try to slide the contact towards the middle of your eye, where the contact fits perfectly, if it still isn’t coming off of your dry finger.
- Some contacts are harder to put on than others, depending on the water content of the lenses. Dailies Total 1 give me a lot of trouble for example, while Acuvue Oasys I can put in right away.
- Wash and dry hands.
- Sometimes it helps to place rewetting drops or saline solution in your eyes a few minutes before removing your contacts to make it a little easier. (However, avoid doing this with Dailies Total 1 as it makes them too slippery to remove)
- Open lid(s) similar to insertion procedure. Use index or middle finger to aim for the bottom of the contact (on the bottom colored part of the eye) and drag the contact to the bottom or the side (away from nose). At this point the contact lens may or may not wrinkle a bit (either way, don’t take your finger off of the contact yet), and add your thumb to pinch it out of your eye.
- If you have trouble sliding the lens away from the center of your eye, just try directly pinching the bottom of the contact. Try going for a wider pinch (like you are gently squeezing the left and right sides of the lens) if it doesn’t seem to work.
- Although I haven’t been able to do it, some people find success with sliding the lens either all the way down the eye or all the way to the side and the lens will just roll right off.