How to Take Care of Your Contacts

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Different Types of Contacts

Contacts are an alternative to eyeglasses. There are various types of contacts out there that cater to different vision problems. All of them can correct your vision. Whether you have hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), or astigmatism, contacts can help.

You’ll need a valid prescription to obtain most contacts. Here are some of your options:

  1. Soft contact lenses — Soft contact lenses are soft and malleable (they are plastic or silicone-hydrogels). They allow oxygen to pass through to the eye’s cornea. These contacts are typically the most comfortable kind. They are also easy to adjust to because of their soft material.
  2. Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) contact lenses — RGP contact lenses are more durable than soft contact lenses. Usually, they offer contact wearers cleaner, crisper vision. But they aren’t generally as comfortable as soft ones. They can take longer to get used to wearing, but they ultimately last longer.

There are also specialized contact lenses available for those who need them. These include the following:

Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)

Ortho-K isn’t exactly a type of contact lens. Instead, it’s a contact lens-fitting procedure. The procedure involves taking specially designed RGP lenses that physically change the corneal curvature. This improves its focusing ability temporarily. These lenses are worn overnight and removed upon waking.

Then, throughout the day, some people can last the whole day without wearing their other contacts or glasses. However, some people may find that their vision wears off throughout the day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires any eye care professional prescribing Ortho-K to be trained and certified.

Decorative (Plano) Contact Lenses

These contact lenses are typically colored, cosmetic contacts used for fashion or dress-up on holidays like Halloween. They do not necessarily correct your vision. Instead, they change the look and color of your eyes. 

While decorative contact lenses are fun, they can also damage your eyes. For example, they can cut, scrape, irritate, and/or dry out your eyes. They can also affect your vision and/or lead to infections. .

colored contact lenses vision center

The FDA recommends that you obtain a prescription from an eye doctor before wearing ‘Plano’ contact lenses, just like corrective contact lenses. The FDA also warns against buying these lenses from street vendors and beauty or Halloween supply stores.


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There are also two subcategories of contacts. These include:

  • Extended-wear contact lenses — You can generally wear extended-wear contact lenses overnight. Sometimes, you can wear them for continuous nights — even up to 30 days. This length of wear depends on the type and your eye evaluation by an eye care professional. Extended-wear contacts are typically soft. There are also some RGP lenses that you can wear longer.
  • Disposable contact lenses — Disposable contact lenses are typically one-time-use lenses. You wear them for a day and discard them. Many soft contacts are disposable lenses. Most people who are prescribed soft contacts are also given a replacement schedule that’s typically daily.

Whatever type of contact lens you need or choose, putting them in can be uncomfortable at first. All contacts take getting used to wearing.

How to Put Contacts in for the First Time (Steps)

Putting contacts in is simple, but it’s not always comfortable at first. If you don’t put them in the right way, they can scratch or irritate your eyes.

Contacts can also cause blood vessels to grow within your eyes’ corneas. This condition is dangerous and can damage your vision even more. 

Note: While you may be tempted to use any eye drops to lubricate your eyes while wearing contact lenses, make sure you use drops compatible with contact lenses. Use rewetting drops or preservative-free lubricating drops that your doctor recommends.

Follow these steps to put contacts in safely and comfortably:

contact lenses
  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. Because you’re putting your finger in your eye, you want to make sure that it’s clean. Non-perfumed, antibacterial liquid soap is best.
  2. Make sure you’re holding the contact the right way. It’s easy to confuse which side touches your eye. Put the contact on the index finger or middle finger of your dominant hand. Make sure that it looks like a little bowl. (If it doesn’t, it’s probably inside out). Some lenses have a 1, 2, 3 indicator; make sure that these digits are not backwards.
  3. Hold your eye open with one hand. Hold your upper eyelid open and tug your lower eyelid down. This prevents you from blinking. You also don’t want to get any eyelashes caught under your contact.
  4. Place the contact with the other hand. With your other hand, steadily raise the tip of your finger that’s holding the contact to your eye.
  5. Look upward. As you place the contact in your eye, look upward. You’ll want to place the contact on your eye gently.
  6. 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.
  7. Repeat for your other eye. Repeat steps one through six for your other eye.

How Long Does it Take to Put Contacts in for the First Time?

Putting in contacts should only take a few minutes. That said, it may take you a few days to get comfortable with the process. 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 a bit so that the contact settles in place. 

How to Take Contacts Out Safely

Follow this step-by-step guide to take out your contacts safely:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. Again, because you’re putting your finger in your eye, you want to make sure that it’s clean. Use a non-perfumed, antibacterial liquid soap and water.
  2. Hold your eye open with one hand. Hold your upper eyelid open and pull your lower eyelid down again. This can help prevent you from blinking in the process.
  3. Gently touch the lower edge of your contact. With your other hand, lightly touch the tip of your finger to the contact. You’ll want to touch the lower edge of the contact. Slide it down to the white of your eye.
  4. Pinch the contact lens. With your thumb and your index finger, carefully squeeze the contact lens to pull it away from your eye.
  5. Repeat for your other eye. Repeat steps one through four for your other eye.
  6. Clean or discard your contacts. If you wear daily disposable contacts, discard them. If you wear bi-weekly or monthly contacts, clean them for reuse. Then put them safely away in a contact lens case for the next time.

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. Because they are flexible, 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 some more movement. Since you can’t quite pinch the contacts, you’ll have to move your head a bit back and blink hard to help pop out the contact.

How to Clean and Take Care of Contacts

Here’s how to clean and take care of your contacts:

  1. Use a contact solution to clean your contacts. Use a “rub and rinse” method with all types of contacts and solutions. Never use tap water or your mouth to wet them.
  2. Store your contacts in a contact case with a contact solution. Do not store your contacts in water.
  3. Use new contact solution each time you disinfect your contact lenses. You should never reuse or top off contact solution that’s been sitting out or that you’ve already used.

What to Do if a Contact Lens is Uncomfortable

If your contact lens is uncomfortable, you want to check to make sure that you put it in correctly. First make sure that you have the correct contact in your eye. Then make sure that you didn’t put the contact in your eye inside out. Before inserting your contacts, always make sure there are no tears in the lens.

If your contact lens is still giving you discomfort, it may be because it’s 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.

You can also use a wetting solution recommended by your doctor if your eyes are feeling dry.

Can You Lose a Contact Lens in the Back of Your Eye?

While it’s a common concern, it’s impossible for your contact lens to get lost in the back of your eye. While your contact lens may become dislodged and move around, you will not lose it. It can’t go that far. A membrane that covers your eye, called the conjunctiva, prevents this from happening.

Risks of Keeping Contacts in for Longer Than Intended

There are a few risks of keeping contacts in for longer than they’re intended. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • You can irritate your eyes.
  • You can cause chronic inflammation.
  • You can develop corneal ulcers (infectious keratitis). These are open sores in the outer layer of your cornea.
  • You can cause a lack of oxygen, also known as hypoxia. This can cause abnormal blood vessels to grow into your cornea.
  • You can damage your corneal stem cells. These are necessary to keep your cornea clear.

Talk to your eye care professional about the best contacts for you, as well as proper use and care.

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Resources
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Boyd, Kierstan. “How to Take Care of Contact Lenses.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 4 Mar. 2021, www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/contact-lens-care

Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Decorative Contact Lenses for Halloween and More.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/contact-lenses/decorative-contact-lenses-halloween-and-more

Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Types of Contact Lenses.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/contact-lenses/types-contact-lenses

“Conjunctiva.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 28 Mar. 2016, www.aao.org/eye-health/anatomy/conjunctiva-3

“Extended Wear of Contact Lenses - 2013.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 21 Nov. 2016, www.aao.org/clinical-statement/extended-wear-of-contact-lenses

“How to Put In & Take Out Your Contacts.” ACUVUE® Contact Lenses, www.acuvue.com/contact-lens-care/how-to-put-in-and-take-out-contacts

“Schedule Your Appointment Online.” How Long Can You Safely Wear Contacts?, www.piedmont.org/living-better/how-long-can-you-safely-wear-contacts

“Types of Contact Lenses.” AOA.org, www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/vision-and-vision-correction/types-of-contact-lenses?sso=y.

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