There are plenty of reasons to start wearing contact lenses. Maybe it’s the way they make you look, or that you just need them occasionally. Whatever your reason, to get the most out of your lenses there are some simple things you should remember to do!
First things first, get a prescription
Before you start wearing contact lenses you need to get a prescription. You might already have one for your glasses but as contact lenses sit directly on your eyes there are extra measurements you need to know for the most comfortable fit. Don’t forget it’s possible to have different prescriptions for each eye so remember to have both to hand when you order.
Then, use that prescription to order
Once you’ve got your prescription, you can come online and order your lenses. For contact lenses for short and long-sightedness you should only need 3 things:
- Power: This is the level of vision correction you need to see clearly
- Base curve: The measurement of your eye’s natural curvature so that the lenses sit securely on your eye. This is usually set by the manufacturer but there may be more than one choice.
- Diameter: How wide the contact lenses should be
If you’ve ever been told by an optician that you have astigmatism, you’ll need a different type of contact lens. Toric lenses are shaped to fit eyes with astigmatism comfortably and securely. With a toric lens prescription you’ll need to check two extra measurements:
- Cylinder A number in measures of 0.25, this is the extra amount of vision correction needed to treat astigmatism.
- Axis:This is a number between 0 and 180 that tells you what angle your correction needs to be.
Just like with regular lenses, you can have different prescriptions for each eye and even one eye with astigmatism and one without. All toric lenses have the words ‘for astigmatism’ or ‘toric’ in the name so if you do have only one eye with astigmatism, use a toric lens for one eye and use the same brand of regular lenses for the other.
If you’ve got presbyopia and have been struggling with reading things close-up recently or use reading glasses, you might want to try multifocal contact lenses. These provide clear vision at all distances in just one lens, so you can always enjoy clear sight. On top of power, diameter and base curve, your prescription will also include:
- Addition: The amount of correction needed for near sight.
- Dominant eye Your dominant eye will be labelled with a 'D'.
For more on reading your prescription, click here
Choose a wearing pattern to fit you
It can be a bit confusing knowing whether to wear daily, month or 2-weekly lenses. Fortunately, it’s up to you which one feels the most comfortable and suits you best.
- Daily lenses: Offer the most convenience and highest level of hygiene as you wear a new pair each day. While they’re more expensive, it makes more sense to wear these if you only want to wear lenses occasionally.
- Monthly lenses: Last up to 30 consecutive days if they’re cleaned and stored in contact lens solution each night. They offer great value for money.
- 2-weekly lenses: A middle ground between dailies and monthlies, you still need to clean them at night but don’t have to wait as long to replace them. This means you can enjoy fresh lenses more often.
With any type of contact lenses, you need to stick to the manufacturer’s wearing pattern. However, if your optician suggests it, you could be able to wear monthly or 2-weekly lenses continuously. In this case you wouldn’t have to take them off to sleep, but your eyes would have to be high in natural tears to keep comfortable and safe for you. You should only wear them for if your optician recommends it and for as long as they have said.
Take care when putting in your contacts
Putting in contact lenses is easy when you know how, just follow these easy steps:
- Wash and dry your hands, then gently lift the lens from the packet onto your index fingertip.
- Hold your upper eyelid up while pulling down on your lower lid and place the contact lens over your iris. If you find this tricky, try looking to the side and place it onto the white part.
- Settle it in place by looking up and down then strongly blink.
- It should have settled in place comfortably by now, so repeat the steps for the other eye.
If you’re not sure if the lens looks inside out or not, check from side on when it’s on your fingertip. If it looks like half a globe then it’s ready to go. If it flares out and looks more like a soup bowl, then you need to turn it the other way. Many brands of lenses come with indicators so you know which way around they are.
When you’re planning to wear make-up, make sure you apply it after you’ve put your contact lenses on. This makes sure you avoid getting any powders etc trapped behind the lenses and will also probably make it a bit easier to see what you’re doing!
During the day
Once you’ve got your lenses on, there’s not much to worry about. They’re perfect for almost all activities except swimming and showering, so if you do fancy a swim make sure to take your lenses off. If you can sometimes get dry eyes or they begin to feel irritated you try using eye drops to re-wet your lenses and provide some relief for your eyes.
It’s also a good idea to bring a spare pair of glasses with you if you’re going to be out for a while. This means you can change into them if you’re worried about wearing your lenses over the recommended time.
Before you go to bed
If you’re wearing daily lenses all you need to do is throw them away before you go to sleep. If you have monthlies or 2 weekly lenses then you’re going to need to give them a quick clean with solution.
- Wash your hands with soap and water
- Use fresh solution and rub your lenses clean
- Rinse them off with solution
- Store your lenses in a contact lens case filled with fresh solution
Soon enough, this will all be second nature to you and you can enjoy the benefits of wearing contact lenses, whether it’s every day, a couple times a week or once a month!