When you think about correcting poor vision, your first thought is likely an old pair of glasses. While glasses are still common and even preferred by some people, contact lenses are far more popular.
Believe it or not, about 45 million people in the United States alone wear contact lenses. If you’re thinking of ditching your glasses for disposable contacts or buying monthly contact lenses online, you’re in good company. But wearing contact lenses for the first time can be a bit scary if you’re not prepared.
Here are a few simple tips to make your transition to contacts a breeze.
1. Don’t Tense Up
Contact lenses sit directly on your eye and correct your vision in much the same way that your standard glasses do. For first-time wearers, this can pose a challenge.
Getting past the feeling that you’re touching your eye can be difficult. Worse, many people worry that putting the lenses in will hurt.
Before you put your lenses in or take them out, remember to take a deep breath and relax. Contacts should never hurt your eyes—at most you’ll feel slight pressure when putting the lenses on or taking them off.
If you’re tense, the entire process will take longer than it should.
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2. Wash Your Hands
Think about the things you touch in a day. You open doors, use shared sinks in the bathroom at work, and pick up bacteria all over the place.
While the bacteria may not cause a problem under normal circumstances, it can become a hazard if you end up touching your eyes. If it gets trapped between your contact lens and your eye, you may end up developing eye infections.
Before you handle your contacts, whether it’s to clean them or to put them on, wash your hands. Use warm water and antibacterial soap for best results.
As an added bonus, that hand washing will get rid of troublesome skin oils that can create smudges on your lenses. You’ll end up keeping your lenses in better shape and won’t have to worry about smudges blurring your vision.
3. Follow the Directions Closely
Contact lenses won’t last forever. They’re not designed to. This means you’ll need to pay attention to how long you’ve used each set of lenses.
If you’ve worn the pair for the recommended amount of time, throw them out and switch to a new set. Wearing old lenses increases your risk of eye infections which often require medical treatment to clear up.
When the package tells you how often to clean them, follow those directions.
You’ll also want to follow your eye doctor’s recommendations on how long to wear your lenses and which activities you need to avoid while wearing them. For most people, this means taking out their lenses when swimming or showering and removing them at night.
If you have specific activities you want to use your contact lenses for, let your doctor know before you start them. This way, they’ll be able to help you find the right type of contact lens for your needs.
4. Consider the Alternatives to Wearing Contact Lenses
Contact lenses let you correct your vision without forcing you to wear glasses frames you’re not wild about. But they’re not the only option you have.
Laser eye surgery offers a long-lasting vision correction that will let you stop wearing contact lenses or glasses. For people who hate waking up with blurry vision or those who want to avoid the hassle of the daily contact lens routine, it’s worth considering.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to learn as much as you can about Lasik and other procedures like it before committing to the surgery. Remember, it’s not a completely permanent solution and you may not benefit from the surgery as much as you might think.
If the thought of going under the laser is off-putting, consider upgrading your glasses frames to ones that you truly love. Glasses can be a great way to showcase your personality and they’ll last far longer than even the highest-quality contact lenses you can buy.
5. Clean Your Lenses the Right Way
Believe it or not, there’s a right and wrong way to clean your contact lenses. The right way involves using a dedicated contact lens solution to remove oils, dirt, dust, and debris. The wrong way involves tap water.
Tap water can damage your lenses, making them cloudy at best. At worst, any microbes in the tap water could get trapped between your eye and the lens, putting you at risk for eye infections.
You’ll also need to clean your contact lens case daily to keep your lenses fresh and in good condition. Make sure to let it air out and dry completely when it’s not in use. This will help prevent mold from forming inside the case.
6. Know When to Take Them Out
Wearing contact lenses should never feel painful. If they’re hurting your eyes, it’s time to take them out and inspect them for damage.
Clean the lenses with your dedicated cleaning solution and use eye drops directly on your eyes. This should get rid of any dust or debris that may make the lenses uncomfortable.
Put the lenses back in and see if they feel better. If not, don’t force the issue. Take them out, put your glasses on, and try again tomorrow.
Remember, irritated, itchy, and puffy eyes caused by allergies or colds can make your lenses feel uncomfortable. While you probably won’t hurt your eyes by wearing the lenses anyway, you should never settle for discomfort.
7. Invest in Sunglasses
With regular glasses, the lenses give you at least some UV protection. But when you’re wearing contacts, you’ll need to protect your eyes from the sun.
Invest in a quality pair of sunglasses and make sure you wear them anytime you’re going outside. Look for lenses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
Ready to Start Wearing Contacts?
Wearing contact lenses is a great way to spare yourself the hassle of glasses. They’re easier to keep track of, won’t fall off when you’re exercising, and cost far less than glasses.
If you’ve never worn them before, these tips should help you get the most out of your new contacts. Just remember to give yourself time to get used to your new contacts and don’t feel bad if you’re uncomfortable with them at first.
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