For an estimated 56 million North Americans, contact lenses are the preferred form of vision correction. So if you’ve just started wearing contact lenses — you’re in good company.
Advice About Contact Lenses from West Lebanon Eye Doctor: Dr. Richard Stegen
Here are 5 tips to quickly help you adjust to wearing and caring for your new lenses so you can enjoy the many benefits they offer.
Learn How to Tell if Your Contact Lens Is Inside Out
This is a common mistake many beginners make when inserting soft contacts. Place the lens on your index fingertip and look carefully at its shape. The edge of the lens should be pointing upwards, like the rim of a teacup. If the edge is flared outward like a blooming flower, the lens is inside out.
Some contact lenses have tiny laser markings of numbers or letters. If the numbers/letters read correctly when you hold the lens on your fingertip, they are properly oriented and the lens is ready to be inserted.
Never Use a Substitute for Contact Lens Solution
Your eye doctor will recommend the appropriate contact lens solution to suit your eyes and lenses. Some people have sensitivities and not all lens solutions are the same. Generic contact lens solutions have been shown to be unreliable. It is highly recommended that patients use only name-brand contact lens solutions and avoid generic solutions.
Even if you run out of contact lens solution, don’t be tempted to rinse your lenses with water, and never use saliva to moisten or clean them.
Using substances other than the recommended contact lens solution to rinse or rewet your contacts can introduce harmful microbes to the eye and cause a serious infection. That’s why it’s best to remove your contacts before showering, swimming, or any other time they might get wet.
If Your Contact Lenses Feel Uncomfortable, Take Them Out!
Some newcomers mistakenly think that if their contacts feel uncomfortable or gritty, they simply need to “get used to them.” Contact lenses are supposed to be comfortable, so if you are experiencing discomfort there may be something wrong.
With clean fingers, remove your contacts and rinse them, inside and out, with the solution or rewetting drops as recommended by your eye doctor. Dust or dirt could have gotten stuck between the lens and your eye, causing irritation. Flushing the lenses with contact lens solution will help remove the irritant.
If your eyes still feel irritated, don’t place the contact lenses back in your eyes. Instead, wait until they are no longer red or irritated, and try inserting them again. If the problem persists, contact your eye doctor.
Wear Contact Lens-Friendly Makeup
Wearing makeup around the eyes can be a source of irritation and infection whether you wear contact lenses or not. Here’s what we recommend when it comes to eye makeup and contact lenses:
- Choose hypoallergenic makeup.
- If using a cream-based product around your eyes, choose a water-based formula instead of an oil-based one.
- Keep your eye closed during application to avoid makeup particles entering your eye.
- Don’t apply eyeliner or eyeshadow to the inner rims of your eyelids.
- Replace eye makeup at least once every 3 months to minimize the growth and spread of bacteria.
- Never share eye makeup with friends or family.
- Remove your contact lenses before removing your makeup.
Stick to the Hygiene Guidelines
We can’t emphasize this enough — always thoroughly wash and dry your hands before handling your contact lenses. If you use hand sanitizer, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water before handling contact lenses. Hand sanitizer residue can be very irritating to your eyes.
Try to avoid washing your hands with oily or heavily scented hand soaps, as they tend to cling to the surface of the lens and could irritate the eye. Additionally, if you touch moisturizers or lotions before handling your contact lenses you run the risk of some residual product adhering to the lens and clouding your vision.
After washing your hands, dry them using a lint-free towel. It's harder to grasp contact lenses with wet hands, and — as mentioned above — lenses shouldn't come into contact with tap water.
Bonus Tip: Get an Eye Exam
While all this advice can be very helpful, it doesn’t replace an in-person exam with your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will advise you when to return for your next contact lens consultation. Following this schedule is the best way to ensure you can enjoy the freedom of contact lens wear.
If you are new to contact lenses (or not!) and have any questions or concerns about your eyes or vision, call 603-678-4759. North Country Eye Care will be happy to schedule you for a contact lens exam and fitting.
With the help of Dr. Richard Stegen, you’ll be an expert in contact lens wear and care in no time!