Congratulations on getting your first pair of contact lenses! If you’re like most people, you’ll probably spend the first few days marveling at small visual details that you never noticed before—like dew on the grass and small specks of color on bright green leaves.
It’s a very exciting time but, as with anything new, it might be a little scary too. After all, contact lenses are high-tech medical devices and your vision is one of your most valued senses. As such, it’s important to make good choices so you stay comfortable, happy and safe. Here are five tips designed to put you on the path to a lifetime of success with your new contact lenses.
1. Relax. Lots of people worry that they’ll scratch their eyes while putting their lenses in or—worse—that the contact lens will get stuck behind their eye. Relax. Inserting and removing lenses might make you nervous at first, but as awkward as it may seem, there is no need to be afraid to touch your eye as long as your hands are clean. Plus, the inside of your eyelids are connected to the back of your eye, so your lenses can’t possibly slip into an abyss.
2. Keep lenses clean. Don’t take shortcuts with lens cleaning. Your doctor will give you instructions that are specific to the lens care regime that is chosen for you. For example, if you are told to use a multipurpose solution, every time you remove your lenses, you should rub and rinse and then place them into fresh solution. Don’t just top off the solution that’s already in the case. When you put your lenses on in the morning, empty out the case completely, rinse with fresh solution and leave it uncapped and upside down, on a paper towel to air dry. Your lens case should be replaced every 3 months. If this cleaning routine sounds like too much of a bother, ask your doctor for a daily disposable, such as Acuvue 1 Day or Proclear Dailies. These lenses can be thrown out every night and exchanged for a fresh new pair each morning, eliminating cleaning and storage concerns.
3. Hydrate. Whether or not you wear contact lenses, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. In addition, depending on your lifestyle and environment, you may wish to supplement your fluid intake with rewetting drops for your eyes. For example, people who spend a lot of time on the computer or are exposed to dry air, heating or air conditioning often benefit from eye drops—even if they don’t wear contacts. The important rule of thumb if you wear contacts is that you need to make sure that the drop you use is compatible with your lenses. Talk to your doctor about which drops are best for you.
4. Follow your doctor’s recommendations. Use only the products that are suggested by your eye doctor. Don’t substitute lens care products, even for a store brand, without checking with your doctor first. The solution you have was chosen specifically for your type of lens, so don’t make assumptions based on broadly-defined packaging labels. It’s also important to keep your appointments. Whatever follow-up schedule your doctor set, stick to it.
5. Adhere to the prescribed wearing and replacement schedule. Don’t try to write your own rules. Wear your lenses only for the amount of time that your doctor says is safe and replace the lenses according to schedule. Don’t try to stretch out the life of your lenses an extra week. Also, unless you were specifically prescribed continuous wear lenses, you should never sleep in your contacts.
Learning how to do anything new takes time. In fact, it may take about a week until you adapt to your new life with contact lenses and feel truly confident. But, before you know it, contact lenses will become a valued part of the fabric of your life.