If any of you remember my new year’s post (Happy New Year!), then you’ll know that one of my resolutions was to ‘get contact lenses’: something that seemed quite terrifying to someone who was so used to her glasses and who was more than a little cringed out about the thought of her fingers going anywhere remotely close to her eyeballs.
Well, I’m here today to say I’ve done it! Yes, I am now a contact lens wearer (actually, I’m on my one week trial, but let’s just ignore the precise details for a minute because (a) I have been sticking round pieces of plastic into my eyes for the last 5 days (b) I have been removing round pieces of plastic from my eyes for the last 5 days and (c) after my one week trial, you can expect me to keep wearing contact lenses because I LOVE them!)
First, let’s talk about the advantages of contact lenses:
- Glasses can look super fashionable, but they can also be annoying, whether in terms of comfort or practicality. Contact lenses can be worn for a maximum of 12 hours and once inserted, it’s easy to forget that you are wearing them. (No more acting like we’re about 50 years older than we are and feeling nostalgic about ‘the good old days’ when our ability to see without glasses was something we took for granted!)
- Contact lenses are the ideal option for those who want to play sport but obviously, want to be able to see what they’re doing. Until now, I didn’t realise how much I had learnt to ignore the fact that I couldn’t focus on everything in dance. Although my dance wasn’t being affected by this, it just makes things a bit easier- which, when you’re at the grade that is one level off from teaching exams, is always nice!
- Let’s breach the subject of photos and makeup: probably one of the two most important things for a relatively self-conscious teenager like me. I always found that I was less confident in my glasses and it wasn’t particularly great when the light would shine on your glasses in photos (#glareface). Plus, I felt that they made a lot of people see me as the stereotypical geeky kid that you see in American teen movies. Maybe it doesn’t help that I try hard with my work but really, that’s not the issue. And neither are my glasses. But, it would be nice to be seen differently, and for my makeup to be seen differently. I would do some nice eye makeup (you know, the Pinterest-worthy type that makes you feel like Kim Kardashian- just obviously without the body and crazy family) then I’d put my glasses on and bam! No one could see it. With contact lenses, these problems just disappear…
Now, despite all the positives of being able to see without glasses, that first trial appointment can be daunting (and probably in the most extreme form of the word) so it really is important that you know what to expect and know what not to do (ie. panic).
Here are my top 10 tips:
- Keep calm. To illustrate this tip, let’s begin with story time: my first Specsavers appointment wasn’t the best and really knocked my confidence in terms of putting in contact lenses. I had an assistant, who you could say ‘didn’t really assist’, so I felt like I was desperately poking my eye for about an hour. At the end of this, as I was trying to put the lenses back in my now red, sore eyes, my Mum asked if we could come back another day for me to try again. Between those appointments, I would be practising at home and getting nervous, hoping that I’d be better in the next appointment or that I’d have a different, more supportive assistant. In fact, both of these hopes turned into realities and within 15 minutes of my next appointment, I had calmly inserted my lenses two times and removed them once. So, tip number 1: don’t feel under pressure, just relax and know that you can have as many appointments as you need and the assistants, whether especially helpful or not, do tell you that you can take as long as you need when there.
- The staff talk to you about your options. It’s important to know that you can get dailies, for occasional wear, or monthlies, which you are likely to wear everyday.
- In terms of options, when being taught how to insert and remove contact lenses, you can also have staff do this for you before they teach you how to do it yourself. I know I just wanted to get on with it myself, but it’s useful to consider your options.
- There are loads of different ways to apply contacts. Using your index finger to insert the lens is the same for everyone, but which finger you use and how you keep your eye open to do this are entirely up to you. If you’re worried, maybe practice opening up your eye to get it flexible and so if you were to insert a lens, you could stop your blink reflex (however unnatural that is).
- There are loads of different ways to remove contacts. There’s either the pinching method, where you roll the lens down the eye and gently pinch it off, or you can roll your lens quickly down the eye until it comes off onto your finger. I chose the latter method, just because I personally found it easier, but there’s no right or wrong. Both methods involve holding the eye open so again, practice that!
- It’s not cringy! Despite popular belief (before I got contact lenses, this included me), you are not actually touching your eye when applying or removing the lenses. You are touching the lens, which either sucks onto the eye or is removed from it by your fingers.
- It can take a little while to adjust. It might feel weird when you first put the lenses in, but it’s not uncomfortable, and you will probably experience Phantom Glasses Syndrome, as it is officially called (seriously, it’s a real thing): reaching to push up or remove your glasses when you are not wearing them, due to a feeling of pressure that makes it seem as if they were there.
- Application and removal gets easier every day. Within these past couple of days, I have already got SO much quicker at using my lenses and I know that it’s just becoming part of my routine. Remember, give yourself plenty of time whenever handling your own lenses and you will soon be the same!
- Get ready to do a lot of cleaning. Whether of your hands or the lenses themselves, cleaning is crucial and it’s vital that you learn exactly how to do this from the person assisting you at your appointment(s). It’s not hard to do, but it’s important that you know how to avoid infection!
- You’re not left to battle through the hard bit on your own. You can ring your optician’s for advice, you have follow-up appointments where you can address any concerns and your eyes are tested with the lenses in (this is also done in the first appointment if possible) and you are given plenty of advice booklets which tell you exactly how to use contact lenses. Besides, plenty of people wear them: it’s not hard to find someone to talk to about them! Basically, you are not alone.
I hope this has helped any of you who are torn between really wanting contact lenses but also feeling anxious about using them. I know that Bayance‘s post PUTTING IN EYE CONTACTS FOR THE FIRST TIME | EXPERIENCE + TIPS was hugely helpful for me, so all I wish is that any of you reading this find the same reassurance in my post. Remember, don’t panic- you WILL get there in the end and then, you’ll feel like you deserve a gold medal (which of course, you will!)