A Guide to Getting Contacts For the First Time

September 03, 2021

Getting contacts for the first time can be nerve-wracking, whether you’re getting your first vision correction prescription or deciding to switch from glasses. Many contact lens newcomers struggle with the idea of putting a piece of plastic in their eyes to help them see better. Fortunately, putting in contact lenses is not as difficult or uncomfortable as it may sometimes seem, and wearing them can be beneficial in numerous situations. In fact, after getting the hang of wearing contacts on a regular basis, many people decide that it’s just as easy as (or easier than) wearing glasses, and may choose to stop wearing glasses most of the time. Here are some things that first-time contact lens wearers should know about contacts.

Note: the advice below applies to soft contact lenses, the most common type of contact lenses.

How to Put In Contact Lenses

The process of putting contacts in your eyes is quite different from putting on glasses, though with practice, it usually takes about the same amount of time to put in contacts as it does to clean and put on your glasses every day. The steps to take are as follows:

Prepare to Insert Your Contacts

  • Wash your hands with mild soap and warm water.
  • Dry your hands with tissues or a lint-free cloth to prevent any excess particles of dirt from getting onto your contacts or in your eyes.
  • Make sure you’re standing over a clean, flat surface or plugged sink (to avoid losing lenses if you drop them)
  • Open your contacts case and take out the same side contact every time. This is to avoid mixing up the contacts, as they may have different measurements and strengths depending on your prescription.

Put in Your Contact Lenses

  • Take out the contact lens and put it in the palm of your hand. Use your fingertips to handle it, not your fingernails.
  • Rinse the contact lens with saline solution, and if you drop it, rinse it again before attempting to put it in your eye.
  • Place the lens on the pad of your index fingertip or middle fingertip of your dominant hand.
  • Examine the lens for damage and make sure the edges are facing upward, like a bowl. Some contact lenses may have translucent markings on them to make it even easier to tell if your contacts are inside out.
  • Hold open your upper eyelid with your non-dominant hand and hold open your bottom eyelid with one of the available fingers of your dominant hand. Alternatively, you can use the thumb and fingers of your non-dominant hand to open your eyelids.
  • Put the lens in your eye, looking straight ahead or at the ceiling as you do.
  • Close your eyes and roll them in a complete circle to adjust the position of the lens, then open your eyes and blink them a few times.
  • Look in the mirror to make sure the lens is in the right position. You should be able to see clearly if the lens is properly settled on your eye. If put in correctly and, you should not even feel your contact lenses so long as the lenses aren’t damaged.
  • If your vision is blurry or the lens isn’t adjusted properly, take it out and try again.
  • Repeat with the second lens, and again, always put the contacts in your eyes in the same order.
  • If after a few attempts your contacts feel uncomfortable, your contacts may be inside out. Try gently handling them to turn them right side out.

How to Take Out Contacts

Taking out contact lenses is usually slightly easier to do, but it’s still important to do it with care. Follow these steps to take out your contacts.

Prepare to Take Out Your Contacts

  • Wash your hands with mild soap and water and dry them with a tissue or lint-free cloth. This will help avoid the possibility of an eye infection.
  • Empty your contacts storage case of any leftover liquid, rinse it with warm tap water, and dry it out with a clean cloth or air dry it.
  • Once your contact lens case is clean and dry, refill it with saline solution if you’re going to reuse your lenses. Note that it is especially important to ensure you are using saline solution for storage and cleaning, not peroxide-based solution unless instructed by your doctor. Peroxide solutions can be extremely dangerous if not used correctly.

Take Out Your Contact Lenses

  • Stand in front of your mirror and look up, then use your dominant hand’s middle finger to pull down your bottom eyelid. Just like putting in contacts, make sure you take out your contacts in the same order to avoid switching them.
  • Use your dominant hand’s index finger to carefully slide the lens down onto the white of your eye.
  • Gently pinch the lens with your thumb and index finger to remove it from your eye. Clean your contact using the procedure recommended by your eye doctor or the contact lens manufacturer, or throw them out if they are single-use contacts.
  • Repeat this process with your other eye.
  • Make sure to only use the cleaning solutions recommended by your doctor or the manufacturer of the contacts. 

Best Practices for Using Contact Lenses

Using contacts can be great for a wide variety of activities, from sports to reading, especially if you find that glasses get in the way or don’t stay in place. However, there are plenty of other things to make sure you do daily if you wear contact lenses, most of which are simple and require little thought.

  • Clean out your contacts storage case every week with warm, soapy water and dry it carefully. Replace it every three months or as directed by your doctor.
  • If you experience strange sensations, vision issues, unusual discharges, or abnormal tearing, remove your contacts and don’t put them back in until you’ve talked with your eye doctor.
  • Don’t wear contacts when you’re sick, as handling them could risk getting infectious microbes into your eyes.
  • If needed and/or recommended by your doctor, use eye drops on your eyes to keep them from drying out.
  • Replace your contact solution monthly, even if there’s some left.
  • Only use saline solution for rinsing, not cleaning. Traditional saline solution doesn’t contain any kind of disinfectant or cleansing agent, and should not be used to sanitize reusable contacts. Use instead whatever cleaning solution your eye doctor has recommended.
  • Have a backup pair of glasses on hand for whenever you’re not wearing contact lenses.
  • As a general rule of thumb, you should never sleep with contact lenses unless your doctor has approved it. There are very few kinds of lenses that are safe to sleep in. 
  • Don’t swim or shower with contacts in.
  • Keep your fingernails trimmed short to avoid damaging your contacts or getting bacteria on them.
  • Never use saliva or tap water to clean your contacts.

Contact Us For Further Assistance!

If you’ve just started wearing contacts, it may seem like a lot of work to maintain them. However, you may find that it’s worth it or is actually simpler than you realize to keep your contacts in working order. If you’re concerned about wearing contacts or have any other questions about how to live with contacts instead of eyeglasses, contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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