Contacts Lens 101

Are you a beginner when it comes to using contact lenses? Or are you considering switching to lenses from glasses? If so, you probably have lots of questions, many of which will be about comfort and ease of use. 

Lots of people worry about using contact lenses for the first time and often feel squeamish about the idea. Some are worried they may do some damage to their eyes. 

Contact Lenses for Beginners | How to Put in Contacts By Doctor Eye Health

Friendly, knowledgeable ophthalmologists are always happy, however, to put people at ease. Here are answers to 10 of the most frequently asked questions:

What are contact lenses made from?

Contact lenses can be hard or soft in form, but they are always made from a type of plastic. 

Soft contact lenses are made from hydrogels. These are plastics that can absorb water. They offer the benefit of allowing oxygen to pass through the water. Allowing oxygen through the lens helps keep the eye healthy. Lenses made from hydrogels are also supple for a comfortable fit.

Hard lenses are also known as ‘gas permeable lenses’. This means that they also allow oxygen to pass through, but rather than rely on water, they have tiny pores within the plastic to do this job.

Hard contact lenses have evolved, through the adaptation of the plastics used, to offer better than ever oxygen permeability, stability and comfort. 

Are contact lenses uncomfortable?

No. Contact lenses, if fitted correctly, should not cause pain or discomfort. 

If you are a long-term contact lens wearer and your lenses begin to cause discomfort, see your eye doctor as soon as possible. They will identify the underlying problem and alter your prescription if necessary, or advise measures to restore your eyes’ comfort. 

What do they feel like?

Contact lenses float on the film of tears that washes over the cornea, rather than sitting directly on the eye surface. This means you shouldn’t be able to feel them once they are in situ. Most users quickly get used to contact lenses and easily forget they are there.  

Are they difficult to put in?

Again, this is something most people get accustomed to quickly. It’s an easy skill to learn, so no, once you’ve done it a few times you shouldn’t find it difficult at all. The method can be summed up as: 

  • Wash your hands and, following all hygiene instructions, balance the contact lens on the tip of one of your fingers.
  • Use the fingers on your free hand to open your eye as wide as possible.
  • Place the lens over your iris (the colored part of your eye). 
  • Allow the lens to settle, then move your finger away slowly.
  • Check for comfort and reinsert if necessary. 

If you have concerns, your ophthalmologist can give you additional help whenever you need it. 

Are they difficult to take out?

No, they are not difficult to take out, and this will also soon become quick and easy as you get used to them. 

  • With clean, dry hands, pull down your lower eyelid and pull up your upper eyelid, keeping the index finger and thumb from your dominant hand free.
  • Place these two digits on either side of the contact lens.
  • Gently pinch the lens down and out of your eye.

Again, you will be offered more guidance on how to do this when you collect your prescription. 

How do I know my lenses are in correctly?

If your lenses are in correctly, they will feel comfortable. If there is slight discomfort, you may have trapped an air bubble. To remove this, place a clean finger on the lens and gently move it around, or close your eyes and rub your eyelid. If this doesn’t work, try taking the lens out and reinserting it. 

How to tell if a contact lens is inside out in your eye?

It can be easy for soft lenses to turn inside out because they are so soft, thin and pliable. You can check that it’s right in one of three ways. 

Here’s how to tell if a contact lens is inside out

  • Look at your lens from the side. It should be cupped. If there is a noticeable outward rim, like you might find on a bowl, then it is inside out.
  • Gently squeeze the lens beneath the edges. If the edges move towards each other, the lens is right. If the edges move away from each other, it is inside out. 
  • Use the markings on the lens. Some contact lenses are manufactured with an edge tint or laser markings that will help you tell if the lens looks right. 

Could a contact lens go behind my eye?

No, this is a myth. A contact lens can move out of position sometimes, but it will be under an eyelid. It will never go somewhere it can’t be easily retrieved. 

If you ‘lose’ a lens, try adding a few rewetting drops to your eye, then gently massage your closed eyelids. This will often move it out into a position where you can see it. Or you can try using your fingers to maneuver your eyelids to get a view of where the lens might be. 

If neither of these methods works, contact your ophthalmologist but don’t worry, they will easily find and remove it for you. 

How do I keep my lenses clean?

Contact lenses are small and delicate, so many people worry about how to care for them. Fortunately, it is very easy. You need to follow a basic, easy-care regime to remove the build-up of debris, which might come from cosmetics or substances found naturally in the eye, like proteins for instance.

You need to follow the instructions given by both the lens manufacturer and your ophthalmologist very carefully. However, there are some universal rules to follow.

  • Always carry out your contact lens hygiene routine with clean hands. 
  • Make sure you are using the recommended cleaning solution for your particular lenses only to avoid damage.
  • Store your lenses in a container that contains only clean, fresh solutions. Never top it up. 

Can I wear contact lenses for sport?

You can wear your contact lenses for most sports if you need to. However, you should always wear additional protective eyewear as appropriate to your sport, i.e. a full-face helmet, protective goggles or polarized sunglasses made for sport, as well as your lenses. This is crucial advice for avoiding potentially devastating and debilitating eye injuries. 

For fast-moving, high-impact contact sports, hard lenses are not usually recommended as they are more likely to be dislodged than soft lenses. If you are unsure, talk to the professional dispensing your contact lens prescription for more specific advice. 

Using contact lenses is a skill that is quick and easy to master. The first few times may feel a little strange, but it will soon become one of those things you can do without thinking. And if you have any problems, you can always return to your eye clinic for some professional advice.

Contribute By Gulf Eye Center