16 Things You Should Know Before Getting Contacts News

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No, your contact won’t roll to the back of your head.

For people who need vision aids, contacts are a
convenient and popular choice. But if you’ve
only ever worn glasses, they can be kiiiind of

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They’re not actually that scary, though. To
help demystify the process for anyone thinking
about taking the plunge, BuzzFeed Health talked
to New York-based optometrist Dr. Monica
Nguyen and Dr. Andrea
Thau, president of the American Optometric
Association and spokesperson for the Think About
Your Eyes Campaign. Here’s what they want
you to know.

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1. The
exam for contact lenses is a little more
complicated than the one for glasses.

The exam for contact lenses is a little more complicated than the one for glasses.

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So don’t expect a quick in-and-out visit.
Before you can even be fitted for your contact
lenses, you have to have a comprehensive eye
exam, which includes not just figuring out your
prescription, but also a few tests assessing
the inside and outside health of your eye, says

After that, you’ll have the contact lens
fitting, where the doctor will take
measurements of the front of your eye and
select diagnostic lenses — aka trial lenses —
for you to test out.

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2. You’ll
also practice putting them on and taking them
off — probably a lot.

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“Contact lenses are medical devices and so
patients need to understand that if they’re
used improperly, they can lead to very severe
complications,” says Thau.

Meaning, your doctor will make sure you
really have a hang of how to use them
before you leave, which can take an additional
half hour to an hour. Sometimes they’ll take
even longer, especially if you’re someone who
doesn’t have experience touching around your
eye — like by regularly putting on makeup.

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3. You
should make your first appointment at a time
when you won’t be in a rush.

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It could take a while to learn to put in and
take out your contacts, so you’ll want to make
sure you leave yourself a lot of time just to
be safe. “The more rushed you are, the more
stressed you’ll be, and the harder it is to
learn something new,” says Thau.

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4. To
prepare, make sure your nails are clean,
smooth, and short, and maybe skip eye makeup
for the day.

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Eventually you’ll be able to put on and take
off your contacts no matter your preferred nail
length, but when you’re first getting started,
having them trimmed can be a huge help. (Not to
mention it reduces the risk of accidentally
scratching your cornea as you figure out WTF
you’re doing.) But no matter the length, you’ll
always want to make sure your nails are
smooth and clean — meaning, no jagged edges and
no gunk underneath, according to Thau.

As for makeup, once you have contacts, you’ll
always want to put them in before any
makeup and then take them out before you take
your makeup off at night for cleanliness
reasons. So, for your appointment, go lighter
on the makeup so you don’t wind up smudging it
all over and under the contact.

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5. A lot
of factors will determine what lenses are right
for you, including your lifestyle and personal
preference. So FYI, these are going to be the
main options:

A lot of factors will determine what lenses are right for you, including your lifestyle and personal preference. So FYI, these are going to be the main options:

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The most common lenses are soft lenses,
which come with various lifespans. There are
daily disposable lenses, which you
discard after one use, and 14-day and
30-day lenses, which require cleaning
with contact solution after every use. Thau
says to think of the soft lenses like bedroom
slippers: comfortable and easy to get used to.

Then you have rigid gas-permeable (RGP)
, which are physically harder and
smaller in size. The harder lenses tend to give
crisper vision and can last longer (up to a
year or two), but are more uncomfortable

There are also scleral lenses, larger
lenses that cover the white of the eye and are
often suggested for people with severe dry eyes
or irregular corneas.

Lastly, there are toric lenses (soft,
RGP, and more), which are shaped to correct
astigmatism, aka when the eye is more football
shaped than spherical.

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6. For
most people with basic contact needs, daily
disposables are probably going to be the best

For most people with basic contact needs, daily disposables are probably going to be the best option.

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“Every day, you put in a fresh, clean pair of
lenses,” says Thau. “You always have lenses
with you. You’re less likely to wear a lens
that’s torn. You don’t have to worry as much
about keeping them clean. For most patients,
the daily disposables are just a godsend.”

Daily disposables are more expensive,
especially if you’re wearing them most days of
the week rather than just on special occasions.
However, if cost is a concern, Thau also
reminds patients that with the 14- or 30-day
lenses, there is an added cost of contact
solution, so there might not be a huge
difference in spending in the long-run.

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7. Plan
on at least one follow-up exam.

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Basically, your doctor will want you to wear
your contacts around for a week or so in order
for you to really get a ~feel~ for whether you
like them or not. From there, depending on
whether or not they were the right fit, you
might put in an order and call it a day OR your
doctor might send you home with a few more
brands to try.

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Between your first appointment and your
follow-up, pay attention to these signs that
your contacts might not be the best fit.

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You’ll probably know if a contact is the right
one, because it should feel good — meaning
mostly like nothing — and help you, y’know, see
well. But here are some things Nguyen says you
might notice:

It feels like the contact is shifting when
you blink

You can feel the edges of the contact

The contact gets more uncomfortable the
longer you wear it

You have difficulty seeing things close up
if the contacts are for seeing far away, or
vice versa

You get headaches or eyestrain, which can
indicate the prescription is too strong

Any type of irritation (seriously, if
you get any sort of burning, stinging, itching,
or discomfort, take them out)

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9. Don’t
be discouraged if it takes you several tries to
find the right pair of contacts. That’s normal.

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It’s not as simple as finding a pair of glasses
you like — everyone’s eyes are different, in
shape, chemistry, dryness, etc. — so it’s
completely normal to have several follow-ups
and to try out multiple pairs until you find
the one that works for you, says Thau. So trust
the process and be patient, because it’ll be
worth it.

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10. That
said, even with the perfect pair, it’ll take
some time to get fully used to wearing

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So like, you’ve probably never stuck anything
in your eye before. Obviously it’s going to be
a bit weird. “Most people when they’re first
starting to wear contact lenses feel them a
little for the first week,” says Nguyen. Of
course, feeling them in an uncomfortable
way isn’t good, but you should expect some
general awareness that there is something in
your eye.

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11. You
can’t sleep, shower, or swim in your contacts,
so don’t try.

You can't sleep, shower, or swim in your contacts, so don't try.

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Your doctor will tell you this, but a lot of
people will try it anyway, so it bears
repeating: JUST DON’T DO IT. This also goes for
other water activities (hot tubs, washing your
face, whatever). Basically, water isn’t sterile
enough to come in contact with something that’s
going to be sitting on your eyes — because, you
know, infections.

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12. While
we’re at it, here are some other gross mistakes
lots of first-time contact users make:

While we're at it, here are some other gross mistakes lots of first-time contact users make:

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Leaving your contact lens case open in the
One flush of the toilet is all it
takes to send a bunch of germs flying through
the air. Which, gross.

“Topping off” your solution. You need to
dump out the solution you soak your contacts in
and use fresh solution every time.

Using lenses for longer than they’re meant
to be used.
Whether they’re dailies,
biweeklies, or monthlies, please just wear them
for the length of time they were meant to be
worn. As the
CDC likes to say: contact lenses are like
underwear — don’t over-wear.

Leaving your contacts anywhere else besides
inside their case when they’re not in your
Just don’t do it.

You can read more about bad contact habits


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Before you ask, no, they’re not gonna roll to
the back of your head.

Before you ask, no, they're not gonna roll to the back of your head.

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The CW

It’s a totally normal thing to wonder (most
people ask about that, says Nguyen), but IT’S
NOT A THING, WE PROMISE! If you really can’t
find your contact and have already checked
around the white of your eye, it most likely
fell out.

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Practicing and experimenting with different
ways to take them out and put them in is OK as
long as you’re safe about it.

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For example, you might find that you’re better
at putting your lens in with your middle finger
instead of your index finger, or that you like
holding your lids open with certain fingers
over others.

Safety is especially important when taking the
contacts off (when you’re required to ~pinch at
it), so make sure whatever you do, you’re still
removing it from the white of your eye and not
directly from the cornea. As long as you do
that, you’re welcome to experiment to find a
method that’s best for you, says Thau.

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15. When in
doubt, take your contacts out.

When you’re still figuring out this whole
contacts thing, err on the side of caution when
it comes to irritation. “Pain is not your
friend,” says Thau. “Your contacts should look
good and feel good. You can lubricate them with
some drops, but if that doesn’t relieve it, take
the lenses out. The worst thing you can do is
suffer through the pain and go from a minor
problem to a major one.”

And, of course, never be afraid to call your

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16. And
lastly, celebrate, because you’re about to be
able to SEE.

Most people love the transition from glasses to
contacts, says Nguyen. Sure, contacts come with
their own sets of responsibilities and
challenges, but you get added peripheral vision,
better magnification, and don’t have to fuss with
frames. So ENJOY.

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