Published On: Fri, Apr 19th, 2013

Contact Lenses 101

Many newcomers have fears about wearing contact lenses, particularly about touching their eyes, when first transitioning to contacts. This fear goes away with practice and can be effectively eliminated by choosing the right contacts for you and by practicing some simple maintenance tips!

Lens Selection

Since the practice of inserting and removing contacts takes a long time to get used to, some prefer to reduce this process by using extended wear, i.e. overnight, contacts. Ask your eye professional if this option is suitable for your prescription. On the other hand, some wearers like myself, find the cleaning process too daunting and prefer to wear daily disposable lenses. There are many other options in between those extremes.

Depending on the climate where you live, consider selecting a brand that offers UV protection built into the lens. This protection does not substitute for sunglasses in cases of intense sun, but offers merely supplementary protection that can help reduce squinting or eye pain.

If lenses move around too much in your eye, then you need to reschedule with your eye care professional to adjust the size. And if you experience excessive dryness while wearing lenses, there are certain types and brands of lenses that can help relieve this, including the recent technology known as silicone hydrogel contact lenses.

Proper Use

The most basic step in the proper use of contact lenses, that is actually oft forgotten, is washing your hands. It is common sense to do so before touching the lenses, so don’t forget this when developing your routine. As a detailed note, consider drying your hands with a towel that is not currently losing excess lint. I suffered many times from tiny fuzz balls on my hands interfering with my lens insertion. Shorter, well maintained, finger nails also make contact lens application simpler, at least at the beginning while you are still learning the process, as you don’t risk poking yourself inadvertently.

Cleaning the lenses according to your optometrist’s or the solution’s instructions are also critical for proper usage. These professional recommendations are intended to keep the lenses free from protein or allergenic deposits. Disposable daily lenses require the least care, while conventional soft lenses require extensive care.

Maintenance tips

When I first started wearing contact lenses, a good fifteen years ago, proper maintenance required at least three different solutions. Now, the whole maintenance routine can be done with one type of solution.

But be sure to carry your solution and your lenses case with you everywhere possible. I have been unnerved by witnessing friends in the past, whose contact fell out of her eye in a freak accident, clean their contacts in their mouth before re-inserting into their eye. For the record, that is not ever considered an effective way to rinse off debris.

Many contact wearers also forget how long it has been since they’ve changed lenses. Since the recommended wear varies depending on the type, request a chart from your eye care professional to track how often they need to be changed. There are even apps available for your smart phone to keep track of their use.

Correct care and maintenance are absolutely essential for the health of lens wearers. If routine tasks, such as these, are not up your alley, consider daily disposable lenses as an option. I moved in this direction five years ago and have been gratefully for the laziness it affords me. And I am sure that you can find the best type of contact lenses for your vision problem, lifestyle or budget and use them both effectively and happily.

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer on health-related topics, currently focusing on eye health, vision improvement and the correct use of contact lenses.

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