Contact Lenses How-To
Caring for your contact lenses correctly is very important. Improper cleaning or use can lead to infection and other serious consequences.
There are three different kinds of lenses:
- Single-use lenses
- Lenses that can be reused for a week or two
- Extended-wear contacts you can wear while sleeping
- Basic Precautions & Care
- Inserting Your Contacts
- Centering the Lens
- Removing the Lens
- Basic Contact Care
Basic Precautions & Care
Make sure you follow these precautions before touching your eyes or contact lenses
- Always wash your hands with mild soap that has no cold creams, lotions, or oily cosmetics. Any of these can interfere with the contacts, and make them uncomfortable.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly. Any leftover soap can irritate your eyes.
- Dry your hands completely with a lint-free towel.
- When handling the contact lenses, make sure you use the tips of your fingers, and be careful to avoid your nails; keeping your nails short and smooth reduces the risk of damaging your contact lenses with your nails.
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Inserting Your Contacts
- Some people find it helpful to took in a mirror when inserting lenses. When opening a contact lens case, shake it a little to make sure that the lenses are not stuck to the bottom of the case. If you apply your lenses every day, it is a good idea to start with the same eye every day so that you don't accidentally put the contact in the wrong eye.
- When you pull out the contact, check that it is not inside out by placing it on your forefinger, and looking at its profile. The edges should be up, like a bowl, but if they are sloped outwards, you should fix it because it is facing the wrong way. Before placing the lens in your eye, examine it for any tears, scratches, or bits of dirt.
- When placing the contact in your right eye, hold your eye open by holding your eyelid up with your left middle finger, and the bottom lid down with your right middle finger, the contact on your right pointer finger. When your eyelids are apart and you have a clear view, focus on something else, and not the fact that you are now putting something on your eye.
- After you have placed the lens on your eye, let go of your eyelids and blink a bit, the lens should center automatically. Use the same process to put the left contact in.
- If the lens is blurry, check that it is centered on your eye. If it is centered, remove it from the eye and examine it for any make up residue or oils, if it is the contact for the other eye, or if it is inside out – in which case it wouldn't have been comfortable to be in your eye.
- If it is still uncomfortable, rinse the lens, and consult your eye doctor. If the lens is less comfortable than when you first inserted it, or extremely uncomfortable upon insertion, remove the lens immediately and contact your optometrist.
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Centering the Lens
It is very rare that a properly inserted contact lens will move from the cornea to the white of the eye during wear. However, if this does happen, there are two ways that you can center the contact lens manually.
- Close your eye and gently massage the lens back into place through the eyelid.
- Gently move the off-center contact onto the cornea while the eye is still open using gently finger pressure on the edge of the upper or lower lid.
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Removing the Lens
- Always remove the same lens first.
- Make sure that the contact lens is on the cornea of the eye. Cover the opposite eye, and if your vision is blurry, inspect the upper area of your eye by lifting the upper lid and looking into a mirror, and the lower area by gently pulling down the lower lid.
- There are two common methods for removing contacts. Follow the one that your doctor recommended, and if either of these methods are difficult for you, your doctor can recommend another method of removal.
- For the pinching method, look up, slide the lens to the lower part of the eye using the forefinger, pinch the lens between the forefinger and thumb, and remove the lens. The pinching method should not be harmful, your fingernails should not touch the lens or your eye.
- The forefinger and thumb method means you don't have to actually touch your eye. Place your hand or a towel under your eye to catch the lens. Place your forefinger on the center of the upper lid, and your thumb on the center of the lower lid and force a blink. The lens should fall out onto your hand or the towel.
- After you remove the contact, follow care instructions given to you by your doctor, or on the case of the contact. If they are single use contacts, discard the lens immediately. If they are for multiple use, immediately follow care instructions.
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Basic Contact Care
- Make sure to clean, rinse, then disinfect your lenses after you remove them. Cleaning and rinsing the contacts removes any film, dirt, and anything that may have accumulated while you were wearing them. Disinfecting them is important for the elimination of germs.
- When you first get contacts, make sure to put them on and remove them while still with your optician. You will be given a "manual" with instructions on caring for your contacts, and information on what to do if something goes wrong. Follow these instructions carefully as failure to do so can result in serious problems, such as infection or damage to your eyes.
- Be careful, and follow all directions that you are given for the care of your contact lenses.
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