When most people first hear of contact lenses, they do so as a solution to medical conditions such as myopia and astigmatism. But contact lenses have many, many other uses. For some people, wearing contact lenses can be a convenient and effective way to correct vision challenges. For some others, contact lenses are a beauty accessory. They are also very popular in the film and television industry where they are used to achieve special effects. They are also pretty popular with cosplayers, who want to bring to life the fantastical eye colours and shapes of their favourite fictional characters.
If you’re new to using contact lenses as a beauty accessory, they can be a bit intimidating. Maybe you saw a video where someone was wearing them and thought, “Nope, that could never be me,” or maybe you heard a horror story where a user’s contacts lenses tore while it was being worn or where the lenses collected debris and caused an infection (very possible but avoidable).
With the right knowledge and practice, though, wearing contact lenses can definitely become second nature. Let us walk through all the basic points you need to know.
Purchasing the lenses
The first rule is to seek when purchasing lenses, even if they are for aesthetic purposes, is to seek the direction of an ophthalmologist. Contact lenses are medical devices and there are many factors to consider, such as the type of lens, the fit, the prescription (if you plan to use it for vision correction), and the brand. Not everyone is genetically predisposed to tolerate contact lenses, and doing a simple test to gauge your eye health can save you a world of trouble.
As one of the most widely counterfeited products, it’s very important that you have an up-to-date knowledge on the quality of lenses. There are many different brands of contact lenses in the market, they might look good but not all are created using the same materials or following approved manufacturing processes.
If you’re getting contact lenses only for the aesthetics, a good bet will be to look out for well-known brands with a good reputation for comfort and quality. You’re likely to find this in your doctor’s office.
Wearing/taking off the lenses
Wearing and taking off your contact lenses is a lot easier than it looks when you get a hang of it.
Wearing the lenses
The first step to wearing contact lenses is to make sure your hands are clean and dry. You want to make sure that you’ve washed your hands with fragrance free soap and dried them with a clean, lint-free cloth. This is important because it’s easy for germs and bacteria to get onto your lenses which are going onto your eyes.
Once you get your hands cleaned, the next step is to take your lenses case and open it up. Ensure that your lenses aren’t inside out by taking one out and holding against the light. If the edges flare out, it’s inside out. If you get the ones with tiny numbers and they’re backwards, it’s inside out. Just flip it over carefully before use.
You can choose to use your left or right hand, depending on which you’re most efficient and steady with. Start with your index finger. Pick the lens with your index finger, use your other hand to hold up your eyelids to prevent involuntary avoid too much blinking or your eyelashes from getting in the way and use your middle finger to pull down your lower eyelid.
Look upwards enough for your sclera (the white outer layer of the eyeball) to show then place the contact lens. Gently release your eyelids and close your eyes for a few seconds to allow the lens slide into place. Open your eyes and you’re good to go. Repeat the process for your second eye.
It’s normal to feel a little weird or experience some discomfort at first. It’s also normal for your eyes to be teary. However, if you experience any pain, itchiness or intense discomfort that doesn’t seem to go away quickly, take off the lenses and contact your doctor.
Removing the lenses
Similar to wearing them, to remove your lenses, you’ll need to repeat the process of washing and drying your hands. Look up and pull down your lower eyelid. Use your index finger to slide the lens back down to your sclera and slightly pinch the lens gently between your thumb and index (not your nails!) so you can remove it more easily. Repeat the process for your other eye.
Tip: If you’re not into using your finger, you can use a contact lens applicator. This will help with insertion and removal of the lens from your eyes.
Caring for your lenses and your eyes
- Replace your lens case every six months. Poor maintenance can lead to germs collecting in the case and expose you to dangerous infections. It is advised that you not only rinse it with solution daily but switch it out regularly. As a golden rule: whenever you get a new bottle of solution, you can ditch the old case.
- If you frequently apply makeup, you’ll need to be more careful about the products you use around your eyes (your lashes, eyeliners and mascaras) as they can irritate your lenses.
- Do not sleep with your lenses on (even if they’re labeled extended wear). Doing this can increase your risk for an eye infection.
- Avoid rubbing or scratching Do not rub your eyes with your lenses in. Doing this could dislodge the lens, introduce bacteria into the eye or worse, damage your corneas.
- Avoid looking directly at the sun & avoid frequenting very hot and very cold places when you have your lenses on as these can cause them to dry out, rip or tear.
- Before you use eye drops with your lenses on, confirm with your doctor to make sure they are safe to use.
- ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS IF YOU’RE GOING TO PUT ON OR TAKE OFF YOUR LENSES.
Finally, be sure to follow the care instructions for your lenses. Proper cleaning and storage can help prevent eye infections and prolong the life of your lenses. All you need to rock your contact lenses is a lot of hygiene, a little bit of practice, patience and confidence!