For first time users, contact lenses can seem scary, as no one really likes the thought of touching one’s own eye. For veterans, while you may have the process down, and it’s become a no-brainer, you may still not be using them in the right way. We’re here to answer “are you wearing contact lenses correctly?” and to put you novices and well-seasoned users on the right track.
While this first step is a general rule of thumb that everyone knows when putting something near their eye, it cannot be stressed enough – thoroughly wash your hands and dry them with a clean towel. Infection and bacteria can linger on even the most clean looking surfaces, so be diligent in your hygiene. This is especially important when traveling, as foreign substances and reside can easily wind up in your eye. Always avoid creams, lotions or anything with heavy scents, such as oil and perfumes, when handling your lenses. These substances stay on your fingers, and if you haven’t washed your hands, will cause your eye to be extremely irritable, as they stay on the contact lens’ surface.
Once your hands are clean and dry, rinse your lens with solution to remove any debris or bacteria. New lenses can be taken out directly from their packages without rinsing in solution. To know if your lens is flipped the right way, put it on the tip of your finger and study the shape. The lens should form a “U” shape. If the “U” shape’s top edges are flared out, you know it is inside out. While no serious damage can occur from wearing your lenses inside out, you will immediately be able to tell, as they will feel very uncomfortable in your eye. If this happens, take them out and flip them the right way.
When it’s time for insertion, place the contact lens on the tip of your finger, and using your other hand, pull up your top eyelid, and your lower lid down. Gently place the lens either directly on your pupil, or if you are more comfortable, on the white of your eye. Close your eye and roll it around in a complete circle. This will help the lens settle in, and once you open your eyes, the lens will be situated on your pupil. You will know immediately if you have inserted the lens correctly, as it will feel comfortable, and for the most part, you won’t feel anything at all. If there is irritation, watering, or redness, try taking out the lens and washing it again, or checking to see if it was flipped the wrong way.
Some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when handling your lenses are as follows:
- Keep fingernails relatively short, to ensure you don’t rip or break your lens, and to avoid injuring or scratching your eyeball
- Never use saliva or water to wet or wash your lens – always use solution
- Regularly clean out your lens case – wash and disinfect it
- Always replace the solution in your case, rather than “topping it off” by adding new solution to the old. Dump it out and fill it up again with fresh solution
- Always clean your lenses with solution and a slight rub – even with “no-rub” solutions, cleaning them thoroughly is in best practice
- Always put your contact lenses in before applying makeup, as makeup can accidentally come into contact with your lenses, or come onto your fingers when inserting the lens
- Use only non-allergenic makeup, and eye makeup that states it is “contact lens safe”
- Unless stated by your doctor, or with special lenses, avoid sleeping with your contacts in, as they restrict oxygen flow to your eye, causing them to become extremely dry, with the possibility of leading to infection.