It’s estimated that 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses. These small lenses can make a huge difference in the quality of life for wearers, but it’s important to handle them safely. Improper care can cause all sorts of issues, including serious infections.
Whether you’ve been wearing contacts for years, or are about to use them for the first time, here are the safest ways to put in, remove, and care for your lenses.
How to put in contact lenses
1•First, wash your hands thoroughly and dry them well.
2•Open your contact lens case and use your fingertip to put the first contact lens in your non-dominant hand.
3•Rinse the lens with contact lens solution. Never use regular water.
4•Put the lens on the top of the index or middle finger of your dominant hand.
5•Check to make sure the lens isn’t damaged and that the correct side is facing up. The edges of the lens should turn up to form a bowl, not flip out. If it’s inside out, gently flip it. If the lens is damaged, don’t use it.
6•Look in the mirror and hold your upper and lower eyelids open with the hand not holding the lens.
7•Look in front of you or up toward the ceiling and place the lens in your eye.
8•Close your eye slowly and either roll your eye around or press gently on the eyelid to settle the lens in place. The lens should feel comfortable, and you should be able to see clearly after blinking a few times. If it’s not comfortable, gently take out the lens, rinse it, and try again.
9•Repeat with the second lens.
Is there a difference between putting in a hard or soft contact lens?
The most common type of hard lens is called a rigid gas permeable lens. These hard lenses allow oxygen to get to your cornea. They’re also more durable than soft lenses, so they last longer. Soft contact lenses are a more popular choice than hard lenses, though.
On the downside, hard contact lenses are more likely to cause infections. They may also be less comfortable than soft lenses.
Despite their differences, you can put hard and soft contacts in the same way, following the steps outlined above.
What to do if a lens is uncomfortable
If you’ve just started wearing contact lenses, know that they may feel slightly uncomfortable for the first few days. This is more common with hard lenses.
If your eye feels dry once you’ve put in your lens, try using rewetting drops made specifically for contacts.
If a lens feels scratchy, hurts, or irritates your eye after putting it in, follow these steps:
1•First, don’t rub your eyes. This can damage your contact lens or increase the discomfort.
2•Wash and dry your hands well. Then remove the lens and rinse it thoroughly with contact lens solution. This can get rid of any dirt or debris that may be stuck to the lens, making it feel uncomfortable
3•Inspect the lens carefully to make sure it’s not torn or damaged. If it is, discard the lens and use a new one. If you don’t have a spare, make sure to follow up with your eye doctor right away.
4•If the lens isn’t damaged, carefully reinsert it into your eye once it’s been thoroughly rinsed and cleaned
5•If your lens is often uncomfortable and the above steps don’t work, or you also have redness or burning, stop wearing your lenses and call your doctor.