The CDC estimates that around 45 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses. Contact lenses cover the cornea and, like glasses, correct a range of vision problems, including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia (vision changes associated with aging). Contact lenses have unequivocal benefits over glasses, largely related to the fact that they don’t alter a person’s appearance or interfere with physical activities. In children specifically, studies have shown that switching to contacts from glasses resulted in a significant improvement in quality of life. Contacts, however, require certain care to keep them sterile and functioning well—and if care is neglected or contacts are placed in the eye improperly, serious eye infections and other complications can occur.
Putting Your Contacts In
Before You Start: Stand at a sink in front of a mirror. Make sure your hands are clean, wash them with hot soapy water and dry them with a lint-free towel. Avoid lotions, oils, and soaps with fragrances. Be sure to handle your contact lenses with your fingertips; avoid touching them with your fingernails. Whether your contact lenses are in disposable packaging or a personal case, only open one side at a time to avoid mixing up your contacts.
- To remove your contacts from their case, press the pad of your index finger onto the lens and lift it out of the case. (If the contact lens seems lodged in the case, gently shake the case to loosen it up.)
- Place the contact in the palm of your other hand and rinse it with contact solution. Never rinse your contact with tap water. Check to make sure you don’t see any debris on your contact. If you see debris, gently move the contact around on your palm in the solution to clean it.
- Place the contact back on the index finger of your dominant hand, hollow side up. If the edges of your contact are flaring out, it is likely upside down.
- Hold open your eye by pulling your eyelid down with the middle finger of the same hand—or the opposite hand, whichever feels more comfortable to you. If you’re new to contacts, you will probably need to also hold the upper eyelid open with the opposite hand. Holding the upper lid open—which prevents blinking—will become less necessary the more adept you become at putting your contacts in.
- Move the contact (still on your index finger) towards your eye steadily. Look upward and gently place the contact on the white part of your eye. Then, holding your eye open, roll it down. Gently press your fingers into your closed eyelid to remove air bubbles.
- Release your eyelids and blink a few times to make sure your contact feels comfortable. If your contact feels uncomfortable, itchy, or painful, remove it, clean it thoroughly with contact solution, and try putting it in again.
- Repeat on your other eye.
Taking Your Contacts Out
Before You Start: Stand at a sink in front of a mirror. Make sure your hands are clean, wash them with hot soapy water, and dry them with a lint-free towel. Avoid lotions, oils, and soaps with fragrances.
- Pull your eyelid down with your middle finger and hold it there while you remove your contact lens.
- Place the pads of your index finger and thumb on the bottom edge of the contact in your eye. Gently move the contact downward. When it touches your lower eyelid, the contact should begin to fold.
- Gently pull to remove it from your eye.
- Clean your contact in the palm of your hand with contact solution. Gently drop the contact into your case with fresh contact solution.
- Repeat on your other eye. If the contact is damaged or old, or if your contacts are daily disposables, throw them away.
Contact Care: The Basics
- Don’t sleep in your contacts. Sleeping in your contacts greatly increases your risk of eye infections.
- Always thoroughly wash your hands before handling your contacts.
- Keep your contacts away from water. Water contains germs that can cause eye infections. Don’t swim or shower while wearing your contacts. If your contacts touch water, disinfect them before putting them back in your eyes, or throw them away.
- Only clean your contacts in contact solution. Never clean your contacts in water.
- Always use fresh contact solution—do not reuse solution.
- Clean and replace your contacts lens case regularly. To clean your case, use contact solution and gently scrub the interior of the case. Dry with a tissue.
What should I do if my lenses feel uncomfortable?
If your lenses itch, hurt, make your vision blurry, or feel uncomfortable, they may be inside out or have dirt or debris on them. Try removing your contact(s), cleaning them thoroughly with contact solution, and then re-inserting them. If your contacts continue to cause you discomfort, contact your eye care practitioner.
How do I stop myself from blinking when putting in contacts?
If you have trouble avoiding blinking while inserting your contacts, try holding your upper eyelid open and looking upward. Place your contact on the white part of your eye, then slowly roll your eye back downward. Your contact should center itself correctly.
I want to switch to contact lenses. How do I get started?
Schedule an appointment with our doctors, who can advise you about your options for contact lenses.
We hope this post helps guide you, but please ALWAYS heed the advice and follow the instructions of your eye care practitioner.
Make your whole family’s vision and eye health a priority with annual eye exams at Monocle Premier Eye Care. Call our office to book an appointment 832.735.7332 or contact us with any questions.