Contact lenses are a comfortable, convenient alternative to eyeglasses. But they require proper cleaning and care to protect your eye health and maintain clear vision.
If you’ve recently switched to contact lenses, you may have questions. This article covers everything you need to know about how to take care of contacts, including how to put them in, take them out, and clean them safely.
Dos and Don’ts of Contact Lenses
Follow these dos and don’ts to build healthy eye care habits.
What to Do
- Always wash your hands. Thoroughly dry them before handling your lenses and touching your eyes.
- Clean your lenses. Follow your optometrist's instructions for cleaning — they may suggest you rub and rinse each lens before soaking it in solution.
- Always use fresh solution. This is optimal for cleaning and storing your lenses.
- Store lenses in a clean contact lens case. Replace the case every 3 months.
- Replace your lenses. Replace lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your eye doctor.
- Remove your lenses. Always remove them before swimming or using a hot tub.
- See your optometrist. Schedule routine contact lens exams.
What Not to Do
- Use tap water to clean or store your lenses. This also applies to your lens case — it can lead to infections.
- Make your own saline solution. This can cause blindness.
- Share your contact lenses. Never share with other people or wear someone else’s lenses.
- Wet your contact lenses with saliva. Do not put them in your mouth — this can introduce harmful bacteria to the lens.
- Use rewetting drops in place of contact solution. Drops won’t disinfect your lenses.
- Sleep in your contact lenses. Wearing contacts for an extended time increases the risk of infection.
- Use cream-based soaps. They can leave residue on your fingers that may transfer onto the lens surface.
How to Put in Contacts for the First Time (Steps)
Putting in contacts is simple, but there’s a learning curve. Most people have some trouble putting them in for the first time.
Follow these steps to put in contacts safely and comfortably:
- Wash your hands with soap and water. Using non-perfumed, antibacterial liquid soap is best.
- Hold the lens the right way. Place the lens on the index or middle finger of your dominant hand. Make sure it looks like a little bowl — if it doesn’t, it’s probably inside out.
- Hold your eye open with one hand. Using your non-dominant hand, hold your upper eyelid open with one finger and tug your lower lid down with the other.
- Insert the contact lens with your dominant hand. Steadily raise the index or middle finger that’s holding the contact to your eye.
- Look upward. Do this as you gently place the contact lens in your eye.
- Close your eye. After placing the contact, slowly release your eyelids and close your eye. Let the contact settle in place for a moment before opening your eye. Look in a mirror to ensure the lens sits in your eye.
- Repeat for your other eye. Follow steps one through six for your other eye.
How Long Does it Take to Put Contacts in for the First Time?
Putting in new contact lenses should only take a few minutes. However, getting comfortable with the process may take several days. After some time, it’ll become like second nature to you.
How Do I Stop Blinking When I Put Contacts in?
You may blink when you put contacts in your eye. This is normal. The key is to hold the contact on your eye for about a second. When you close your eye, move it around so the contact settles in place.
How to Safely Remove Contact Lenses
Follow this step-by-step guide to safely take out your contacts:
- Wash your hands with soap and water. Don’t forget to use a non-perfumed, antibacterial soap.
- Hold your eye open with one hand. Hold your upper eyelid open and pull your lower eyelid down with your non-dominant hand.
- Gently touch the lower edge of your contact. With your dominant hand, lightly touch the tip of your finger to the contact and slide the lens down to the white of your eye.
- Gently pinch the contact lens. With your index finger and thumb, carefully pull the contact lens away from your eyeball.
- Repeat for your other eye. Repeat steps one through four for your other eye.
- Clean or discard your lenses. If you wear daily disposable contacts, discard them. If you wear bi-weekly or monthly contacts, clean them before you store them.
- Store your lenses. Put them safely away in a clean contact lens case with solution.
People with long nails may be unable to pinch and gently pull lenses from their eyes. In this case, you can use the tip of your finger to slide the lens down from your eye.
The Difference Between Putting in Hard Contacts vs. Soft Contacts
Putting in hard contacts is the same as putting in soft contacts. Both processes involve the same steps.
The key difference is that soft contacts may feel more comfortable. Soft contacts are more flexible, so they’ll have an easier time molding to the shape of your eye. They’ll also be easier to take out.
Taking out hard contacts may involve more movement. Because you can’t quite pinch the contacts, you’ll have to move your head back and blink hard to pop out the contact.
How to Clean and Take Care of Contacts
Here are a few hygiene tips to keep your contact lenses clean:
- Use a multipurpose solution to clean your contacts. Rub each lens with a few drops of clean solution, then rinse it with more solution.
- Store your contacts in a clean case with contact solution. Don’t store them in tap water.
- Use fresh solution each time you disinfect your contact lenses. Never reuse or top off contact solution that you’ve already used.
What to Do if a Contact Lens is Uncomfortable
If your contact lens is uncomfortable, check that you put it in correctly.
First, make sure that you have the correct contact in your eye. Then check that you didn’t place the contact inside out.
Before inserting your contacts, always ensure there are no tears in the lens.
If your contact lens still feels uncomfortable, it may be dirty. Take it out and clean it with a cleaning solution. Then dry it with a lint-free towel before putting it back in your eye.
Your doctor may recommend using rewetting eye drops to lubricate dry eyes.
Can You Lose a Contact Lens in the Back of Your Eye?
While it’s a common concern, your contact lens can’t get lost in the back of your eye.
Your contact lens may become dislodged and move around, but you won’t lose it. It can’t go that far. A membrane that covers your eye (conjunctiva) prevents this from happening.
Risks of Keeping Contacts in for Longer Than Intended
There are several risks of keeping contact lenses in longer than intended. These include:
- Severe eye infections
- Blurred vision
- Corneal ulcers
- Lack of oxygen, also known as hypoxia
- Damage to corneal stem cells
Proper contact lens care is essential for your eyes’ safety. Wearing contact lenses without cleaning them will make you more prone to eye problems, including infections.
If you experience problems while wearing contacts, inform your doctor immediately. Talk to your eye doctor about the best contact lenses for you and proper use and care.
In this article
Best Places to Buy Contacts
1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.
GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.
Best Places to Buy Glasses
Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.
Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.
Best on a Budget
EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.