Common Questions Asked by New Contact Lens Wearers
While millions of people wear contact lenses all over the world, many have never tried, partly through fear and partly because they simply don’t know whether contact lenses will be right for them. These frequently asked questions are broken down into sections to help alleviate some of those fears.
Contact Lens Comfort
How long does it take to get used to wearing lenses? Depending on the type of lens, it can take from a few days to a couple of weeks. Rigid gas permeable lenses require a minimum of a week, building up wear time gradually; soft contact lenses are comfortable almost immediately.
Does it hurt if a contact lens is inserted inside out? Only soft lenses can be inserted the wrong way round; it doesn’t hurt but it may feel a little strange and the lens usually falls out fairly quickly.
Are lenses comfortable for everyone? Some people experience discomfort wearing any type of soft or rigid contact lens, perhaps, for example, due to an extreme case of astigmatism where the cornea or the lens of the eye is irregularly shaped. Alternatives are reverting to glasses, trying custom made contact lenses or considering laser eye surgery. In addition, there are contact lenses offering maximum comfort and breathability that can be worn for days in row.
How long should contact lenses be worn? Lenses intended for daily use can be worn for up to 14 hours without discomfort but some wearers like to take them out during the evening if eyes feel tired.
Keeping Eyes Healthy Wearing Contact Lenses
Can daily disposable lenses be worn for more than one day? In principal, this is possible but not recommended; lenses are much thinner and more likely to tear on removal plus they will not be as comfortable on the second day. Rather than trying to save money by reusing a single-use lens, simply buy 2 weekly disposables instead.
Will eyes be harmed if lenses are accidentally left in overnight? Most contact lens wearers have fallen asleep in their lenses at some point. Provided eyes are left to breathe for a few hours, no harm should be done, although rigid lenses will be more difficult to remove and eyes may feel taut for a while. It’s a good idea to revert to glasses for a day if this happens.
Do contacts that emphasize your eyes’ natural color require a prescription? Even if choosing colored lenses for cosmetic purposes rather than to correct vision, they are still medical devices and require an eye test and a prescription from an eye doctor. Beware of online retailers selling cheap colored lenses without the need for a prescription for fancy dress parties or sports events as they may be harmful to the eyes.
How safe are extended wear lenses, worn overnight? The FDA has to approve the wear time for all extended wear contact lenses but just as most people would not wear the same underwear for a week/month, many eye doctors will not prescribe extended wear lenses due to the higher risk of protein and dirt build-up which can lead to serious eye infections.
Can lenses be lost behind the eye? No, the membrane between the eye and the eyelid prevents this, although some users rub their eye and move the lens to one side or under the eyelid, making it seem as if the lens is lost. Don’t panic, just gently maneuver the lens back into position.
Cleaning Contact Lenses
Can water or spit be used to clean lenses? To avoid infection, you have to clean your contacts properly using the right solution. Also, you should keep your contact lens solution and case for storing lenses sterile to prevent health problems. Always carry a small bottle of solution or a spare disposable lens in case of emergency.
Tips for Wearing Contact Lenses
Those new to lenses should take heed of the following contact lens care tips:
- New wearers should keep fingernails short to avoid scratching the eyeball when taking soft lenses out.
- Always wear gloves when handling hot chilies. Even if hands are thoroughly washed, it can be a painful experience removing a lens!
- Struggling to remove contact lenses? Ask your eye doctor for a special device which acts as a suction device to remove the lens.
- Always apply makeup AFTER putting in lenses and discard old eye makeup frequently to avoid lenses becoming contaminated and causing an eye infection.
- Remove lenses if eyes feel uncomfortable.
Feel Confident with Contact Lenses
Most wearers quickly get used to wearing contact lenses. Those that experience discomfort or blurred vision should consult their eye care practitioner to discuss possible alternatives.