How to Apply Your Contact Lenses

 

8 min                Oct. 22, 2021

 

Look. We get it. No one actually likes the idea of putting something in their eye. So when someone suggests getting started with contact lenses, it’s only natural to think: ‘no thanks!’

But try out modern contact lenses and you’re likely to think differently. 90% of people using TOTAL1™ said they couldn’t even feel the lenses in their eyes^. Then comes the next hurdle. Will I be able to apply and remove lenses myself? Many people are squeamish about getting a finger anywhere close to an eyeball, but it’s actually very easy.

 

The best and fastest way to learn is by following an optometrist’s instructions. You’ll learn how to apply (and remove) contact lenses, whilst getting valuable advice about contact lens wear and care.

It may also help to follow our video tutorial as you read the guidance below.

 

PREPARATION

Imagine that you’ve just woken up to your first day wearing lenses. You head for the bathroom and take a shower. Now you’re ready to put these slivers of technological brilliance into your eyes. Understandably, you’re a bit nervous. It’s your first time using contact lenses, without help from your optometrist. Nervous is normal. So here’s what to do – after you’ve had your morning shower.

 

First, you need to wash your hands, if possible using an anti-bacterial, unscented soap. Then rinse them thoroughly and dry them, ideally on an older, freshly washed, lint-free towel. Lint describes the little bits of hair, dirt or fluff picked up from a new towel before it’s been washed a few times.

 

Do you bite your nails? Who are we to judge? Do file them though, if you have sharp or bitten edges. Although your nails should stay well clear of your lenses, it’s best to be super-safe. They could catch and rip the delicate lens material - and you don’t want anything sharp or jagged anywhere near your precious eyes.

PICKING UP YOUR CONTACT LENSES

Now, find your happy place for lens application. Some people prefer to do this standing in front of a vertical vanity mirror, while others prefer to hunch directly over a flat surface, looking down at a mirror.

 

Open the case in which your monthly contact lenses have soaked overnight, or the blister pack with your fresh supply of daily disposable lenses. If you’re going to do your left eye first, just open the case or pack containing the lens for that eye. That will stop you mixing up your lenses and putting the prescription for your right eye in your left one, or vice versa. It’s early in the morning remember, so you could end up confusedly popping two lenses in the same eye!

 

PUT YOUR LENS ON YOUR FINGER

Some people use the same hand to apply the lens for both eyes, but it may be easier to use your right hand for your left eye and left hand for the right. Just find what works best for you.

 

If you see a lip bending around the edge of the lens, or a pointy, sharp edge, the lens is inside out. It has lost its perfect symmetry and is under pressure - but there’s no need for you to be. Just flip it back into shape by pressing the lens edges with your other hand’s thumb and index finger - and proceed as above. You may want to add a bit of cleaning solution, to keep the lens wet. If you are wearing daily disposable lenses and the lens appears stained, damaged or ripped (they are thin, so this can happen), just throw it away and use a new one.

 

APPLYING THE LENS

Right, you’ve held the lens up to the light and checked its shape and for debris or damage. It’s passed the test. You’ve got a nice clean contact lens balanced on your finger. Well done you: so far so good.

Now with the index or middle finger of your free hand, stretch up your upper eyelid, ‘anchoring’ the eyelid by pressing it against the bone at the top of your eye socket, or your brow. This will stop your eyelid moving down in a blinking reflex when your lens approaches your eye.

 

With the middle finger of the lens-carrying hand, pull down the skin below your eye and press down against the bone of your lower eye socket. This will keep your eye wide open, exposing a large area for the lens.

 

All you need to do now is slowly but steadily move the lens towards the front of your eyeball, the cornea. Staring straight into the lens makes this easier. As soon as the lens makes contact, it will sit naturally on your eye, with no need for additional pressure. Move it around a bit, then gently remove your finger (natural suction ensures you won’t take the lens with you).

 

SECURING YOUR LENSES

To complete the application, slowly let go of your lower eyelid, then the upper one. Close your eye. Look up, down, left and right behind your closed eyelid. Blink a few times to lubricate the lens - and give yourself a round of applause!

 

Cover your other eye: if you can see clearly, the lens is firmly in position. If not, you may have trapped an air bubble. Open your eyelids again and slide the lens gently from side to side with the tip of a finger, or massage the lens gently through your eyelid while looking straight ahead with your open eye.

 

ALL GOOD? YOU’RE HALF-WAY THERE.

Now you need to do exactly the same with your other eye. Having done so, you’re sorted - and able to forget about wearing contact lenses until removing them after a day’s comfortable wear.

 

CLEARING UP

Successfully inserting your lenses is almost the end of the routine if you wear daily disposables. All that remains is to throw away the blister solution and put the blister pack into the plastic recycling. If you are a monthlies wearer, you need to throw away the contact lens solution from your lens case, leaving it open in a clean environment to dry.

 

You don’t need to add fresh solution until the evening, when you pop rinsed lenses into the case and add a bath of solution for overnight storage and disinfection (having followed the instructions from your solutions provider). OK, let’s get back to the morning routine. Having inserted both lenses, you’re now ready for body lotion, make up, shaving or whatever constitutes the rest of your bathroom preparations. And for the first time in ages, you’ll be able to see what you’re doing, without glasses!

Don’t worry if you didn’t catch all of that. Watch our quick video tutorial to see how inserting a lens works perfectly.

 

REALITY CHECK!

OK, let’s get real for a moment. Your first attempts to put in your contact lens will be fiddly. You may get frustrated, and it won’t all go smoothly. So don’t attempt to do this when time is tight. Take it easy - and practice. Most wearers say it’s like learning to ride a bike or drive a car. Once you’ve mastered it, it’s almost automatic. It gets easier every time and soon you’ll be a pro, fitting your lenses in seconds and seeing clearly - all day long.

 

But before becoming a master, there may be a fair bit of swearing, blinking, turning your lenses inside out and wondering if this is going to work. You may drop one, or even lose it (that’s why it’s a good idea to block the plughole before you start). Don’t hesitate to go back to your optometrist for repeat training: it’s normal - and the smart thing to do.

 

BUT WON’T THEY FALL OUT?

No. Really. Believe us. Your eye care professional has fitted you with lenses which fit your eyes precisely. So go on - hang like a bat or swing like a gorilla at the gym. Just don’t rub your eyes too much or too hard. As you go about your daily routines, your contact lenses will stay moist (due to blinking and the presence of your natural film of tears), clinging to your eyes like a chimp to its mother. In short, they will continue to do their job, whatever you do - until you take them out yourself.

 

THIS IS GOING TO HURT, ISN’T IT?

Another myth is that putting lenses in your eye is painful. No it isn’t. It’s no more painful than wearing glasses. Your lenses are thin and light, safe and secure. They cannot and will not harm or hurt your eyes. They let oxygen in, keeping everything hydrated. Once in, you’ll probably forget they’re there. The only exceptions are if the lens catches and introduces dirt or bacteria to the eye, if you’re getting used to gas permeable rigid versions, or if you wear your lenses for longer than they’re designed to be worn.

 

HELP. I LOST MY LENS ROUND THE BACK OF MY EYE!

Stay calm. This is simply not possible. There’s fold of skin around your eye that stops a lens going anywhere it shouldn’t go. Gently press against your closed upper eyelid and rub down towards your nose: eventually the lens will appear from under the lid. Keep it clean. If you do get dirt in your eye along with a lens, it could scratch the cornea or cause an infection. The most important thing is to stick to the rules given to you by your optometrist. Never put a dirty contact lens in your eye. If you decide that tap water - or worse, saliva - makes a good cleaning liquid, you’ll find it’s a quick way to infected eyes. Use only sterile care solutions to rinse or store your lenses.

 

However, if your lenses do give you any discomfort once in your eye, or if you develop dry eyes, take them out and seek professional advice. Wanting to wear contacts despite discomfort is a bad idea - and never as important as your continuing eye health.

 

So let’s sum up. Just follow the instructions given and replace your lenses as indicated. If you do that, your lenses really will liberate you, to do what you like, without limits. A new world of fun and freedom awaits!

^ Based on wearers agreeing with the statement, “while wearing my lenses, I sometimes forget I have them on ”.

 

References: 1. Perez-Gomez I, Giles T. European survey of contact lens wearers and eye care professionals on satisfaction with a new water gradient daily disposable contact lens. Clinical Optometry. 2014;6:17–23. Sponsored by Alcon.