Your eye is designed to keep foreign objects out: Lashes guard it, tears wash away specks of dust and sensitivity lets you know that sticking things in it can be painful. So how do you get past your fear of contacts and used to inserting lenses?
Lots of practice.
Even if you don’t normally wear contacts, you can take full advantage of your vision benefits by ordering a year’s worth and wearing them occasionally to overcome your fear. “The insertion and removal process can be tricky, but receiving guidance in person from a trained eye-care professional or optometric technician at your doctor’s office can make it a lot safer and less intimidating,” optometrist Cheryl Murphy said.
Here are some tips for getting over your fear of contact lenses.
Fear of Contacts Hack: Know the Technique
Inserting contact lenses can seem like you’re simply poking something at your eye until it sticks, but there’s actually a technique that can make it easier. Working with your eye-care professional will help you get it right, Murphy said.
She recommends following proper “lid posture.” “Gently hold your upper eyelid against your brow bone while lowering down your lower lid so that you can achieve a wide opening and blink-proof control in order to place the lens on each eye,” she said. If you’re right-handed, balance the lens on the index finger of your right hand for insertion into each eye; do the opposite if you’re left-handed.
Contact lenses are fitted to your eye, so even though you’re placing a foreign body on your eyeball, it’s designed to fit comfortably and safely. “Many new patients worry about the lens going too far underneath their eyelids or even behind the eye,” Murphy said, but that’s impossible. “There is a cone of muscles that block the contact from ever going truly behind it.”
However, sometimes a lens may get decentered or stuck underneath your upper or lower lid.
“First, don’t panic,” Murphy said. Add a couple drops of contact lens rewetting solution in the affected eye to help rehydrate the lens and get it floating free again. “Then massage the outside of the lids, swiping with gentle pressure from the spot where you think the lens is stuck toward the front part of your eyes so that the lens may be pushed forward and come out.”
Maintain Good Hygiene
Eyes can easily become injured or infected if your hands aren’t clean when you touch your lids or lashes, so always wash your hands before handling contacts, Murphy said. In addition, trim your fingernails short to avoid scratching the cornea when inserting or removing lenses.
When you first start wearing contact lenses, slowly build up the amount of time you keep the lenses in. Also, you may need to wake up 10 to 20 minutes earlier than you normally do so you have extra time to put the lenses in, until you can do so smoothly. Never sleep in your contact lenses, and be careful around water.
Finally, “Never swim or shower with contacts, and avoid contacts coming into contact with any type of water—pool water, tap, ocean, lake, bottled,” Murphy said.
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