How to Insert Contact Lenses
Do you struggle to insert and remove your contact lenses? Do you find it impossible to put your lenses in, and see in the mirror at the same time? You're not alone - but learn the right method, and inserting and removing your soft contact lenses will become quick and simple!
It's Not You, It's Them
You're not clumsy - it's just that many optometrists teach unnecessarily difficult methods of insertion and removal. Maybe they've never worn contacts themselves!
It's easy for them - they can see what they're doing the whole time while they're putting the lens in your eye. You can't! If you're inserting contacts in your own eyes, you either have to learn how to do it their way, but without looking (which is not easy) - or you have to find a way to look and insert at the same time.
How NOT to insert contact lenses #1
Some opticians still teach the insertion method originally designed for hard contact lenses. Hard lenses had to be placed directly on the coloured part of the eye, because they stayed exactly where you put them. That's not necessary for soft lenses, and it's the most difficult way to put a lens in!
For one thing, when you see a finger headed for your cornea - which is highly sensitive - all your instincts tell you to flinch away. Not only do you have to overcome those instincts, but as soon as you have your finger directly in front of your eye, you can't see in the mirror - so you have to get into contortions to see past your finger, while at the same time holding your eye open with your other hand.
Soft lenses slide, so there's absolutely no need to put them directly on the coloured part of your eye.
The easy way to insert your lenses
Now for the secret! Let's put the right lens in first.
Stand in front of the mirror with your lens ready to insert on your right index finger. Now turn your head slightly to the right, while still looking in the mirror. Look at the eye farthest from the mirror - the coloured part of the eye is right in the inner corner, and you can see a big expanse of white. That's your target!
With your left hand. widen your eye. You can do this a number of ways - put your left arm over your head and pull on your top lid, or bring it up under your chin and lower your bottom lid - whatever works for you. Either way, your left hand doesn't obstruct your view of the mirror at all.
Now bring your right hand around under your chin. Still looking in the mirror sideways, put the lens on the white part of your eye. If it doesn't "stick" straightaway, you can rub it in tiny circles a couple of times. Now gently, push it in the direction of the coloured part of the eye as you straighten your head to look directly at the mirror. Blink a few times.
Your lens should now be sitting nicely in the right place!
The video below illustrates the idea of putting the lens on the side of the eye. If you turn your head and look into the corner of your eye as I suggest above, you won't have to stretch your eye open like this guy does - it looks too uncomfortable!
How not to insert contact lenses #2
Because soft lenses slide, it's much easier to place them on the white of your eye and s-l-i-d-e them into position. Most optometrists do use this method nowadays - but it's their starting point that's the problem.
A common method is to ask you to look up, then they place the lens on the white beneath your pupil and ask you to blink - and hey presto, your lens slides neatly into place!
Try that method yourself, and you'll find you have no idea where your finger is. You're just as likely to put the lens on your lower lid instead of in your eye, or knock it off your finger with your eyelashes.
Slightly more practical is to ask you to look down, then they lift your top lid and put the lens on the expanse of white thus revealed. Then they let go your lid and ask you to look up and blink - once again, the lens should slip into place.
You may be able to master this version if you get a mirror that can sit almost flat on the bench - so you can look down into the mirror while you lift your top lid and place the lens on the white. Unfortunately, I find that lifting my top lid distorts my vision and I can't see what I'm doing clearly enough, so this method doesn't work for me either.
If you have long fingernails or arthritic hands, using your fingers to insert and remove your contacts may not be practical anyway. There are tools to help you, but choose carefully as some cheap versions simply don't work, or are so fiddly you might as well use your fingers!
When you're shopping for a lens inserter, make sure it's suitable for soft lenses. Many inserter tools are for hard or RGP lenses, and simply won't work with soft contacts. Also avoid the tweezer-type tools, even if they're labelled for soft contacts - they're more likely to tear the lens and can also give you a nasty poke in the eye, even with padded ends!
The only tool I've found which gets consistently good reviews is the Softsert Lensvue. I like the fact that it's transparent so it doesn't obscure your view, and the magnifier is a boon if your near sight is poor.
The Lensvue contact lens inserter has a magnifier (handy to check if your lens is torn)
Removing contact lenses
You can remove lenses the same way you inserted them: put one finger on the lens, slide it on to the white of your eye, then pinch it out with thumb and forefinger.
However, once you've become used to putting things in your eye, you can probably just pinch the lens directly off the coloured part of your eye with your thumb and forefinger, without any trouble.
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